At Vienna's Kosmos Theater in the Siebensterngasse (tramline 49: two stops out of town from MQ/Volkstheater) the long forgotten, strange but true story of the USA's first would-be-Presidentess Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) is waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.
Writer, journalist, political observer and author of Victoria Woodhull (Ulrike Helmer Verlag, pub: 2002) Antje Schrupp has unearthed the forgotten story of Woodhull; from her upbringing in the American school of hard knocks to her death in England. And was on hand to sign copies of her 250 pp biographical book.
Who was Victoria Woodhull? Capitalist or socialist? Feminist or prostitute? Intellectual or free spirit? she asks. The all-American Power-Frau and visionary, the arch-enemy of Harriet Beecher-Stowe (author of Uncle Tom's Cabin) fits into no convenient drawer, she concludes. And so it is.
In one memorable scene America's richest man, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in his mobile bath tub bathing in fake $10,000 bills asks Victoria: "young lady I've got 5 minutes for you - what have you got for me?" when the gold price crashes as the band plays on ...
Tanja Witzmann has gathered together a trio of young and exciting acting talent in the shape of Suse Lichtenberger, Sissi Noe´ and Valentin Schreyer. One feels that the spritualist side of the multi-faceted Woodhull, "you might be the ghost of someone else" , might well have had her invisible hand in the selection process. The chemistry is at times electric.
Under Woodhull's illuminated motto "Free Love" the story, after the glasses of the Woodhull Elixir of Life have been distributed and sampled, begins with a therapy session. The audience must now close its eyes and for the first two or three minutes take part in a Victoria Woodhull breathing exercise and meditation session. It all cranks up the wonderful tongue-in-cheek sense of the bizarre.
A large screen provides documentary footage of the American Civil War and other key moments. President Obama and Hilary Clinton dance on and off the stage at one point. As the financial crisis deepens Woodhull entertains us with a display of her bubble blowing prowess, and so it goes on, from one madcap liberating moment to the next.
The story of Victoria Woodhull, a woman forever challenging the so-called American way of Life and her relationship with her strange sister Tennessee Claflin is presented in an entertaining and star-spangled show. It's a production well worth supporting. Invest in the cost of a theatre ticket, and give it a whirl!
VictoryAhh! at Kosmos, Siebensterngasse 42, 1070 Wien
01 523 12 26
30/9/2009 to 3/10/2009
07/10/2009 to 10/10/2009