V. in Ballhaus Ost

I swore to myself never to go to the theater again1 which took a lot of the pressure off. But yesterday I did go to see V. in Ballhaus Ost. The posters hanging around town piqued my interest that a group in Berlin would stage a text by Thomas Pynchon. And if anyone should break my rules, it should be me.

German reinterpretations of English works are often problematic because of the language and culture ravine that lies between. That’s no different here. I often had the feeling that the people treating it or doing it don’t really understand the text and they’re just doing something. Just reading a text by Pynchon is no mean feat, let alone creating an adaptation to the stage.

The dramatic performances are more convincing than what I’ve seen in the larger venues here in Berlin. There is also a camera that shows us parts of the stage that are occluded. The bar and party area, the living room quarters with the Killroy curtain hanging in front of it. A refreshing addition especially because videography is anathema in traditional German theater.

The piece takes its time. Probably stemming from the misconception that things that have a long duration are profound. This can be true, but three hours is just in between a bearable evening play and the dramatic marathon that imbibes special meaning to the ordeal. It is amazing however that such theatric effort can be bought for €13, a steal whichever way you look at it.

After the first hour of trying to follow what was happening in various parts of the stage I had the realization that made everything fall into place. Instead of trying to follow the story I just thought back to The Invisibles, the legendary psychedelic graphic novel of disparate threads bound together by a crazed vision. After that I could just let the subsequent hours wash over me. Which raises the question: has there been an The Invisibles play yet? King Mob on the stage would kick Molière’s ass.

If you want to see over three hours of risky disjunctive theater, you should definitely go.

  1. Just after seeing mightysociety10 in Amsterdam.

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