It feels like a family reunion every time a play from the Lilienthal era comes back to the Kammerspiele, which was a complete disappointment in 2021.
The play is based on Schiller’s play “The Robbers”, and it has now become a commonplace in the theatre to add the word “female” to former classics, even if it feels a little clichéd. The director Leonie Böhm has also produced well-received plays such as Young Faust at the Kammerspiele a few years ago, and Medea at the Schauspielhaus Zurich in 2020 which was selected as one of the top ten productions at the Theater Treffen.
The director has removed almost all of Schiller’s original plot, retaining only the four main characters, distilling the spiritual core and the intricate relationships between them, and then re-presenting them on stage in a very German way, which give the audience the ideal of “I’m the only one who understands what you’re saying”.
However, the fine line of audience-pleasing is difficult to grasp, and there are plenty of scenes where the play interacts with the audience, with the female audience cheering and whistling at the end when all five actresses are stripped naked and frolicking on stage. I don’t want to compare who’s better or worse, but it feel that this audience would have been happier watching Magic Mike. The stripping itself was appropriate in this context, however as a director it was impossible not to anticipate the audience’s possible reactions, and to provoke the audience so much from start to finish revealed a sense of cheap sycophancy, and the whole show feels like a group of people capable of performing good work who had fallen over themselves to produce rubbish. Leonie Böhm could have done much better.