Christoph Marthaler

Das Weinen (Das Wähnen) [Whining (Waning)]
by Dieter Roth

Avant-garde, provocative Swiss director Christoph Marthaler, a familiar face to the Festival audiences, returns to Peiraios 260, with a performance based on texts of his compatriot Dieter Roth. A multifaceted visual artist, renowned for the unorthodox approach to his materials, Roth (1930-1998) also left behind an extensive body of work as a writer and poet, which remains largely unknown.

The text of the performance, Das Weinen (Das Wähnen), is a collection of verbal acrobatics with stage directions, taken from the edition Das Weinen (Das Wähnen) Volume 2Α (Sea of Tears 4). Figuratively walking on Roth’s tightrope, Marthaler reflects on the transience of things against the backdrop of an antiseptic pharmacy. All the ingredients found in Marthaler’s theatre are once again present: music, irony, expansion of stage time. In Roth, Marthaler finds a kindred spirit due to the latter’s penchant for the absurd, the decay of time and imperfection.

Five women, all pharmacy employees, contemplate the ephemerality of things. The only client (and sole male character in the performance) delivers a monologue about his difficulty swallowing and how it ails him; however, the women hardly pay him any attention. The cure proposed by Marthaler lies, not in medicine, but in Roth’s Neo-Dada texts, which actors recite in the same impressively precise manner in which they chant Mozart’s Lacrimosa. When one of the employees reads the long list of a medicine’s side-effects, we realize that the entire human life is a but a deluge of side-effects from which it seems impossible to rid ourselves.