Quo vaditis, Rabtaldirndln and toxic dreams?

Quo vaditis, Rabtaldirndln and toxic dreams?

Michaela Preiner

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June 2022

Graz housewives versus Viennese housewives - an astonishingly tiring combination

There was a time when some of her formulated thoughts made your heart stop almost every minute. There was a time when you knew: Wherever Rabtaldirndl is written, there is wit, esprit and intelligence inside. Rebelliousness and demonstrative self-empowerment, but also intelligent questions about the female state of mind ran light-footedly alongside the great plot of the chosen title. Whether jam was refined into a “golden sentence” or one was allowed to litigate in the open behind the “Uschi Kümmernis”, the flashes of inspiration always sparkled and the ensemble always encouraged reflection and rethinking.

The name Toxic dreams stands for unconventional theatre experiences. It stands for putting social conditions in a theatrical light that reveals what seems almost unspeakable without it.

In the production “The unreal Housewife of Vienna vs. The unreal Housewives of Graz”, the two companies joined forces to address the topic of “wealthy housewives”. The reality format “The real housewives” served as a model for this, in which the audience is allowed to look into the supposed inner but also outer life of the rich and beautiful.

The current production, directed by Yosi Wanunu, the artistic director of toxic dreams and an experienced theatre man, cannot really live up to the expectations of this collaboration. This circumstance has several causes. Translating a TV format into theatre is no easy task, especially since there are already stage parodies for this series in particular.
Secondly, it may be that one or the other finds it entertaining to see women psychologically unmasking themselves and going at each other like crows. But this kind of entertainment did not really sweep the audience present from their seats.

Thirdly, there is the question of the sense of juxtaposing Viennese and Graz women’s cliques from the wealthy milieu and having them compete against each other in a showdown like in an arena. The black and white big-city elegance, versus the colourful, fashionable costume, makes it clear which shark women are in charge here internationally and which are national at most. Whereby the costumes by Susanne Bisovsky, a Viennese fashion great, are the absolute highlights of the production. The fact that the Graz women define themselves more about their possessions and rant about them, while the Viennese women indulge in more introspection right from the start, but then also make disparaging remarks about what they hear in each case – this difference alone does not make the evening exciting.

Whether it’s the chic white interior of a Ruckerlberg villa or the dignified brown leather sofas in a flat with a view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (stage: Götz Bury, Paul Horn), whether the ladies dress up in tennis outfits or sauna coats – the navel-gazing of Graz’s haute volee or Vienna’s high society tires relatively quickly. Possibly this feeling was also intensified by the permanently rising heat in the hall of the Kristallwerk.

The musical interludes that are performed live towards the end don’t help either. The text that is used does not reflect anything other than what one has already experienced before. Whoever is rich and beautiful can get away with anything, whoever is rich and beautiful, no matter how he or she got there, only needs to care about others for the sake of form. And – not to forget: Those who are rich and beautiful suffer from their meaningless lives. One suffers a little more, the other a little less, but it’s not easy for them either!

What is missing is the biting wit that can expose socially toxic structures that are geared exclusively to the principle of my house, my car, my yacht. What is missing is linguistic finesse, for which the Rabtaldirndln in particular stand. Their Styrian dialect chunks, often thrown down so casually, are usually far superior to High German in their conciseness and turn many a supposed aside into a long sparkling, intellectual diamond.
But there is also a lack of feeling for how many platitudes a text can take without ending up in boredom, repetition and predictability.

In short, what is missing is that moment when the spark jumps over to the audience and ignites their emotions. Those who belong to the section of the population that is targeted here with not particularly suitable means will not really feel addressed. And if they do, they will fiercely resist it in a kind of defensive position. Those who are not part of the chic scene should not expect any profound psychological insights into the ladies who are embodied on stage. The text offers them all too little personal contour for one to be able to identify with them.

The second series of plays will take place at the brut in Vienna from autumn. Perhaps there will be adaptations by then that will make a visit seem more worthwhile. Slips are allowed and are part of the theatre business. “The unreal Housewife of Vienna vs. The unreal Housewives of Graz” should in no way contribute to not visiting the upcoming productions of the Rabtaldirndln and toxic dreams. The focus on their own core competences and, above all, on exciting themes will certainly provide the audience with interesting and highly emotional theatre evenings again.

This article was automatically translated by deepl.com

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