The Sleeping Room – Macbeth Audience Discussion

“I have lost all hope,” announced Stefan Merki as Macduff, three quarters of the way through Karin Henkel’s Macbeth. “Me too,” came the indignant response from a voice from the row behind me. Whilst not a fan of attention-seeking audience members, I was inclined to agree at this point. Witches dressed in diamante-studded figure-skating outfits, Macbeth and Banquo singing to each other, and an empty, generic house-shaped set proclaiming itself to be the “sleeping room” (Schlafender Raum), all were not completely without interest, but they left me cold. It seemed I wasn’t alone; a few soft boos accompanied the applause at the end of the show.

The Sleeping Room, Photo: Miriam Sherwood

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The Contract of the Audience

99 pages of text, 4 hours of theater, no scheduled intermissions. Sounds like a marathon, right? Sounds potentially aggressive, potentially cruel. Did I mention that “Die Kontrakte des Kaufmanns” by Elfriede Jelinek is about the financial crisis and the evils of capitalism? Did I mention that the text resembles Jelinek’s “Women as Lovers” in its structural patterns? That the text spins around and around and goes almost nowhere? Did I mention that the text is 99 pages and that the piece is 4 hours without an intermission? But out of these daunting circumstances, Nicolas Stemann has created a wonderful, inspiring evening of theatre.

Who's Afraid of 99 Pages? Photo: David Baltzer

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