Roaring Flop

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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One of my favourite plays of all times is "Cabaret". Most people are familiar with the filmed version of it, starring Liza Minelli; I have had the luck to see it live on Drury Lane and, last year, on Broadway. Both times were truly incredible. The tragic ambience and radical ideas of the post-war Germany were conveyed so well that it was impossible to resist its' utterly beautiful sad charm. Consequently, when I heard of it coming to Houston, I immediately decided to see it again. However, this time I was bound for disappointment.

I bought the tickets at the door. The places turned out to be at the very back of the balcony. In other words, we were as far from the stage as one could possibly be. In addition to that ,our neighbors on both sides turned out to know each other and spent the night communicating their latest news right over our heads.

To be sure, viewing was difficult. Nevertheless, the process was eased by the fact that there was not much to view. I mean that literally: the only decoration on stage was a wall with three doors. The poor flat surface had the burden of symbolizing a street, a train station, a dressing room, a furnished flat, a cabaret , and, somehow, the decadence of Weimer Republic. The costumes of the actors were of the same laconic nature. The principle seemed to be "the less, the better". Through the entire show, they had not changed once. What they did wear did not at all reflect the style and fashion of the 20s.

Yet, I was willing to overlook the excessive conceptuality of the settings. I waited in vain for the actors to stun me with their much-praised performance. Well, instead of a wild and coquettish British flapper, who strips while waiting for the big break in the movies, Leah Thompson chose to portray a somewhat desperate hyperactive dame with a very fake English accent. Her partner, whose role was the one of a naive innocent from Pennsylvania, was outrageously theatrical. His every gesture was filled with an immense degree of pathos, making Cliff's naivete dangerously resemble stupidity.

To sum up the story of my venture, the performance occured as a result of the wrongly perceived postmodern approach to art. Theater is a place where acting is still art, not unencumbered recital of lines in the way that it is done on TV. However, postmodernism stands in favour of pluralism of opinions, which can be very risky for someone who lacks the ability to judge. Hence plays like "Cabaret" are ruined by their directors , in whose eyes pretentiousness is a synonym for originality