Friday, 25 September 2009

VictoryAhh! Victoria Woodhull at the Kosmos, Vienna

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


  1. A bit far I'm afraid. But I've emailed a link to this post to the person I know who lives nearest to it!

    Bad news - the I-word! I've picked up a bit of a groin strain so I'll be unable to run for a bit. Bang goes the Snowdonia. Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men. I'm not having kittens as I decided from the outset not to put all my eggs in one basket.

    (I wonder how many cliches I could get into one comment?:) )

  2. When I read of things like your post today I wish I lived in a place with more "culture", but then I go out into the fields and know that I couldn't live anywhere but here.

  3. Thanks Dominic. Bit of bad luck re your Snowdonia training. Hope you're soon back on top form.
    By the way, I did my long awaited half marathon on Sunday. Came 187th out of 322 and was 5th in the old grey beards over sixties; 15 who hobbled to the start line trying to kid themsleves they were in the spring of life ;)
    Yes, the Kenyan won!

  4. Weaver, I agree The Dales is a most wonderful region. My favourite spot is the view from the snack bar lay-by at Ribble Head; the wide skies and the flat-topped hills, the railway line, the grass-munching-sheep, the limestone rocks, the music of the butting winds and the quiet burble of hidden streams...

  5. 187/322 - a pretty good result! It's always good to feel there's a respectable number of people behind you, although I remember occasionally just feeling relieved I wasn't last.

  6. Thanks Dominic. I must confess that I did finish last in the Hutton Roof Fell race in my unfit days many moons ago. Nowadays I like to boast about where I am in the old codgers group. 5/15 in the M60s it was just for the record ;)


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