Friday March 7th. One of the greatest privileges of knowing five languages is that I can see theatre in many countries (and read literature in many languages). So this evening I went to Gothenburg State Theatre with my friend Elias Liebendörfer and watched “Faust och Faustin and out”, a 3,5 hour version of Goethe’s Faust.
The play gave me quite mixed feelings. It was visually well done and the actors were technically very good. But only one actor out of 11, “Gretchen” played by Caroline Söderström, touched me emotionally with her interpretation. The other actors left me quite indifferent, although the topics were grave. Moreover, I didn’t quite understand what the play wanted to say. It felt like they were trying to rub something in your face, but I never quite got what and why they were rubbing that something into my face and what the actual point was.
But what I DID like was that they took up the factor of how perverse Faust was who wanted Gretchen and how wrong he did her. I remember when we read Faust in high school at the age of 17 I was absolutely disgusted by this story about an disgusting old man who uses his power to get an innocent and naïve 14 year old girl, murders her brother and get’s her to by mistake kill her own mother and then runs of and abandons her pregnant, and lets her sit in prison instead of him. And then in the end everything is anyway forgiven and he comes into heaven without having suffered anything else than mental anguish, that jerk! But my teacher said “oh, you don’t understand this well enough”. Well, at least the director of this play had understood it more or less the way I had, because the first hour of the play was only about incest and a staging of something that reminded about the case of Josef Fritzl, who locked up his daughter in his cellar for 24 years. The scene emphasised how sick and wrong the relationship is between a paedophile and his victim, who has no choice and starts to identify it self through her/his abuser. Now THIS is something that has to do with Faust! (The paper Svenska Dagblandet says in their review that they think this play is like an anti text to Goethe, where the victims are finally aloud to speak out. For me, this was always what Faust was about.)
But about the play I can say as a conclusion; I am happy I had read Faust before, otherwise I wouldn’t have understood anything. (I actually even composed Gretchen’s song for high school, and had completely forgotten about it but remembered it when I noticed that I knew Gretchen’s lines by heart through my own music.) I am also happy that I went and looked at the play, it was interesting seeing the staging and interpretation. But I was disappointed in the result, especially by the actors, because I was expecting the actors at the State Theatre of Gothenburg to be fantastic, not empty puppets reading up lines with good emotional imitations, which just felt unreal.