Sunday, 6 May 2012

Robinson Crusoe at the Burg

I had almost given up with the state of affairs at the Burgtheater when along came a much needed breath of fresh wind, well more of a hurricane really, in the form of Joachim Meyerhoff who is for me head and shoulders above many of the players at Vienna's grandest playhouse where he currently stars as Robinson Crusoe twice nightly.

To watch Meyerhoff in action is like attending a one man training course in acting. First he establishes contact with the audience and takes them into his confidence as it were. Then he articulates and shows what he has to say. Always he suits the words to the actions and the actions to the words. He is the genuine gold coin. With Meyerhoff the slightest nuance is always telling; and often it can be  electrifying.

Before too long he will, I sense, need to become a theatre director in his own right. Perhaps a kind of player-manager. It would be a good way for him to go. In this kind of role too he would doubtless excel as he showed in yesterday evening's first performance of Daniel Defoe's classic desert island story which he conducted and arranged himself with the able assistance of veteran player Ignaz Kirchner.

Symbolically Meyerhoff was the lonely castaway in the auditorium where he rearranged his affairs, ostensibly using the furnishings, with an almost uncontrolled violence, and became the restless half-mad king of his lonely domain.  This action speaks volumes.

I left this amazing performance with the feeling that the stately ship the Burgtheater was a vessel fitted out with new sails. Shall I chart its course? Yes, when Mayerhoff is on board. Otherwise? We shall just have to wait and see.


  1. It is wonderful to see a master player in action isn't it Gwil?
    Once or twice in my life I have seen memorable performances and they have left a profound impression on me too. The feeling lasts for days after the performance and lives on in the memory.

  2. I completely agree with what you say Pat. I can remember some amazing and unforgettable acting performances, including the same actor (Mayerhoff) in Goethe's Faust.


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