solitary_summer: (dreamsquid (© clive barker))

It's HOT. 9 pm, still 31 degrees, I should have checked. I thought it was safe to open the window, it being dark and all, but I'm already covered in sweat...

In other not-so-news, now that the whole eye-related drama is over & done with [although, again, knocking on wood...] & I have panic-free brain-capacity again...

Last Saturday my sister and I saw Jesus Christ Superstar in Amstetten, and for once we both agreed that this was a little on the weird side.

I've never seen it before, I didn't know what to expect; I didn't expect much of anything, to be honest. It's a musical, I thought. It's Andrew Lloyd Webber, I thought. How catholic can it be, I thought. Or was it only the production that turned it into a passion play, only with singing and dancing & homoerotic not-so-sub-text?

We both left wondering what exactly was the point - of the musical itself, and, more specifically, of the production; vaguely we'd both expected a different, at least slightly controversial approach, nothing quite so literally catholic. None of the characters (with the possible exception of Judas) had any personality, they remained gospel cardboard cut-out personas; it didn't help that the music was so loud that it seriously messed with the voices. I perhaps understood one word in three & during the intermission was left wondering what exactly was Judas's problem, other than his obvious jealousy of Maria Magdalena.

There was one part especially that made me more than a little uncomfortable. While it looks like as if with the costumes of the priests they were trying to avoid anything too distinctly Jewish, in the trial/flagellatlion scene there's this pretty, blond, long haired Jesus, in white trousers, a sympathetic Pilatus, and there's the whole ensemble, dressed in black in a way that definitely suggested Jewish orthodox dress, the men in coats and hats, screaming for Jesus to be crucified. You'd have to see the choreography to get the full impact of it, the hatefulness, the ugliness. I sat there, disbelieving, and i'm still wondering what made them decide to stage this particular ugly Christian stereotype. It'd have helped, at least a little, if there'd been (e.g.) a dark-haired Jesus and blond Judas, but as it was... I have a hard time believing that a young, thoroughly international team and cast would have suddenly chosen to channel a collective anti-semitic prejudice, but what then? Sheer obliviousness? Hard to believe. Or were they consciously playing into the stereotype, indeed, over-playing it, trying to make the audience reflect? If that, it's a precarious gamble that could have gone wrong in many ways, and perhaps has, because it's scarily effective, and the intention not clear at all, especially since nothing else in the production particularly invites reflection. If I went to see it with a child, there'd be a long talk afterwards about the historic circumstances and where this kind of Christian prejudice led already.

Another thing that shocked me on a very personal level was how after nearly fifteen years of more or less pronounced, occasionally militant, anti-catholicism and atheism, this still managed to stir some kind of primordial religious feelings/memories and to really grip me in the end. Not on any intellectual level, there was nothing abstract about it, nothing transcending the story actually told, no universal message about sacrifice, but on a very simple, emotional childhood-religion gut level, when you still believed these stories they teach you, in a very literal way. Suddenly I kind of understood what makes people watch passion-plays and such. It's scary and embarrassing at the same time, to suddenly discover something like that still lingering in yourself. Strange. And does it make sense at all that little anti-catholic, atheist me was sitting there, almost disconcerted, when right after the crucifixion scene, it was over, and the lights went on, and they did the Jesus Christ... reprise, and it was a musical again, and people were cheering and applauding.... Again, weird, in many respects.

On a more ::cough:: mundane level... Hard to say much about the cast because the characters were so un-developed and the voices so drowned-out and/or-turned up too loud. Kim Duddy's choreography is good as always, but IMO as a director she simply lacks the vision of what you might do with a play/musical. Drew Sarich was a good Judas, but then again the part is perhaps the most interesting in any case, and the one most open to interpretation. Cue somewhat predictable homoerotic overtones. (Symbolism right until the end, shooting himself, gun in mouth) Not to be overly sarcastic, though, the whole death-scene was very touching, especially his variation/repetition of I don't know how to love him. I guess one might object to making Judas (more or less explicitly) gay on top of the whole betraying Jesus thing, but then again his character is at least somewhat interesting and he does play a vital part in the story, whereas Maria Magdalena... She soothes. She anoints. She pines. Yawn.

Still almost 30 degrees at 11 pm. Still sweaty. No point trying to sleep.


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March 2013

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