La Cage Aux Folles, Komische Oper, Berlin
An Over The Top Production
By: Angelika Jansen - Feb 08, 2023
La Cage Aux Folles, at the Komische Oper, Berlin
What a performance of La Cage Aux Folles at the Komische Oper, Berlin! This musical with music by Jerry Herman and a book by Harvey Fierstein has seen many international interpretations since it opened in 1983 at the Palace Theatre in New York. But this newest production under the direction of Barrie Kosky, the director of the Komische Oper until last season, is an amazing tour the force, an absolute enjoyment for the onlookers that delightedly participated whenever asked.
All stops were pulled. The huge tropical background of the stage setting (by Rufus Didwiszus), although extremely colorful, remained a background due to the gold and silver exuberance of the corps de ballet that almost did not fit on the stage. Dancing in colorful costumes with pinkish too toos and feather boas, or in gold and silver costumes, with unbelievable temperament and old fashioned vaudeville aspects, held the audience more than entertained.
The main story line is chaotic but not bombastic. Jean-Michel (Nicky Wuchinger) tells his gay father George (Peter Renz), the owner of La Cage Aux Folles, that he wants to marry Anne Dindon (Maria-Danaé Bansen). She is, unfortunately, the daughter of the ultra reactionary politician Edouard Dindon (Tom Erik Lie) who wants to close all drag clubs on the Riviera. Albin (Stefan Kurz), the wife of George, is the star Zaza of the tranvestite show, and has helped raise Jean-Michel for 30 years. Of course, what looks like a disaster in act one is resolved with a happy end in the final, second act. The celebration on stage continues with gold and silver glitter raining down on the audience as everyone is leaving with happiness in their faces and after a long applause.
As the story comes alive as a conventional family affair, although set exclusively in a gay surrounding, singing and acting by all is solid but not outstanding. What makes the evening special is that the entire production is a whirlwind dance sensation that gets the audience actively involved by clapping and singing. Some scenes, especially when George and Albin meet at a cafe, or when everybody meets under a gigantic cross, are unnecessarily close to slapstick. At times, the tropical background is overpowering and consequently slightly irritating. However, at the end, all, on and off stage, are happily participating in the action.
With this production Barrie Kosky is shining again, not as director of the the theatre any longer but as the director of the production. Opulence in general and lively dance numbers reigned supreme. The indulgence on stage was carried to the onlookers, and indeed, they reacted favorably and broadly smiling. What a great evening, what a joy for all! Perhaps this will be the high point of the current season concluding at the end of June 2023. Then, the Schiller Theater will become the home of the Komische Oper for the duration of the reconstruction of the house.