Whoever has seen the performer Ivo Dimchev knows that entertainment is guaranteed in all his productions. But also that this – may it seem shallow at first glance – has an enormous depth. This leads to the fact that one can have a good time in his shows, only to come across many a hidden social criticism afterwards.
“In Hell with Jesus” is his latest work, in which he is on stage with 6 other performers. In doing so, he does something that requires a great deal of courage. He presents himself as an ageing male show diva with explicit homoerotic tendencies. The setting shows him casting for his upcoming show with the flowery title “In Hell with Jesus”. Both the men and women applying have to answer various questions and each sing two songs of Dimchev’s own choosing. From the beginning he plays with the self-made position of power in a great way and manages to entertain the audience in the best way with a crazy catalogue of questions.
His outfit with golden extended eyelashes – complemented by short shorts and a checked shirt, already shows his untouchable, fashionable accuracy – ‘ironic off’. The painted tattoos are also visually echoed in his ensemble. A small notebook helps him when he can no longer think of the ad hoc questions to ask. The answers he receives are meticulously written down there and sometimes he also wants to know from the audience how they would have decided and asks them to vote with a show of hands.
You have to rack your brains as to whether you would rather have sex with Putin or the Dalai Lama, whether you would rather be rich in Russia or famous in China, or whether you would rather be raped by a soldier or the prime minister. Nothing, but absolutely nothing, that Dimchev says is politically correct. Every single sentence goes beyond socially accepted boundaries. But he has a humorous soothing pill ready for every uproarious statement. In his long catalogue of questions, there are few examples that do not have something to do with sex. But anyone who has been to one of his shows knows that this is something like his USP on stage.
When interviewing his casts, he also lets them know each time how many have applied for the respective role before them. Once there are 135, then 545 and with a groan he has to realise that he is still far from the end of the hearings. With brute subtlety he exposes the obvious power relations in show business. He shows what the applicants stoop to, but doesn’t forget to take a selfie with them for Instagram.
But he has the most fun when he interprets one of his songs with the contestants. Love that has passed is one of his main topics, sex practices another. He always accompanies himself with a small keyboard – this time with guitar sound and always, always you can tell in these moments that he is doing what he loves best: singing. Apart from his successful moderation, it is mainly these moments that are touching and finally culminate in his halal song and a vodka drinking song and carry the audience away.
The members of his ensemble, Maria Tepavicharova, Lora Nedialkova, Yordanka Pavlova, Teodor Koychinov, Steven Achikor and Roburt Iliev are characterised by high musicality and good voices. Their professionally played mixture of devout behaviour and the attempt not to completely give up their own personalities creates a connection with the audience, who sympathise and are glad not to have to take part in this crazy casting themselves. When the performer, musician, dancer and choreographer, who comes from Bulgaria, calls one or the other back to him from the stage long after the respective casting, he casually and flippantly wipes away the idea of witnessing a casting that is actually taking place. The reference to the play within the play thus succeeds in an exemplary manner.
Ivo Dimchev captivates “In Hell with Jesus” with the caricaturing of certain mechanisms of show business, but also with the openly displayed human inadequacy that must inevitably accompany it. What is usually glossed over and hidden, dusted with glitter and streamlined, is mercilessly exposed here. Nevertheless, the packaging is so humorous and intelligent that one cannot help but be thoroughly entertained. Dimchev never fails to convince in each of his shows. Admirable.
This article has been automatically translated by deepl.com.