Reviews Theater Uncategorized

Peace play interesting, but it fell short

Münster Theatre (Lina Marie Shulenkorf/YJI)

Münster, GERMANY – In his play “Give Peace a Chance – Wallenstein,” director Stefan Otteni uses Schiller’s famous play “Wallenstein” as well as quotes from Erasmus of Rotterdam, Martin Luther and excerpts from the Treaty of Westphalia and other quotes to pose the question of when war is justified and how peace can be achieved.

On the occasion of the 375th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia, which marked the end of the Thirty Years’ War, Münster Theatre dedicated itself to this very topic: peace. The show was partially based on the novel Wallenstein by Friedrich von Schiller.

Parallels are repeatedly drawn with the war of aggression in Ukraine and the performance, which took place one day after Alexei Navalny’s death in a remote Russian prison, was spontaneously dedicated in part to the opposition politician.

At the center of the play are Schiller’s Max (Julius Janosch Schulte) and Thekla (Rose Lohmann), Wallenstein’s foster son and his daughter, who as lovers stand for the opposites that also clash in German society due to the war in Ukraine.

On the one hand is Max, who blindly trusts his foster father Wallenstein (Frank-Peter Dettmann) as a mercenary and general and believes that peace is only possible through war; and on the other hand Thekla, who wants the war to end and inwardly believes that mankind is actually good.

With the help of this pair of lovers, Otteni also succeeds in holding up a mirror to German society by mixing the characters with political talk show parodies such as Maybrit Illner or Markus Lanz and by mentioning names such as Sarah or Strack-Zimmermann in the armoured quartet.

The music, accompanied by Bettina Ostermeier, and the chorus skilfully integrated into the stage design, make the depressing mood even stronger and emphasize the play’s thoughtful and almost oppressive atmosphere.

With the help of the stage design, the Münster theater showed what it is capable of; with the help of a constantly growing mountain of corpses or a Wallenstein scenery moving out; the stage designers did a great job.

Schiller would probably have liked the play, as it keeps the audience thinking throughout the evening and uses its stage to morally educate the audience.

But many seats were empty after the intermission in the previously well-filled theater. On the one hand, the play is drawn out over three hours, on the other hand, certain themes are only addressed superficially. After the hour and a half before the interval, you leave the theater with a certain sense of dissatisfaction and the feeling that everything has actually been said.

Those who had been looking forward to the critical examination of the famous classic Wallenstein are not entirely clear what the various scenes, some of which are taken out of context, are actually supposed to mean.

Obvious comparisons, such as Wallenstein as Prigozhin, are only pointed out in a subordinate clause at the very end of the play.

In general, the play seems haphazard and pieced together, the choice of music and the various texts seem to have been randomly thrown together on the subject of peace.

Despite all this, the play succeeds marvellously in highlighting various problems and answers, even if it drags on a little at times. The most diverse philosophers and politicians in history have their say with their different opinions and the end of the play seems almost a little cynical.

The conclusion – with quotes from the Westphalian Peace Treaty and the International Women’s Peace Congress of 1915 – paints the picture of a utopia of peace, but may not quite fit in with the impressive, sometimes tragic problems of a war that does not want to end.

Members of the audience likely went home with a thoughtful and somewhat chaotic impression of a play that squandered its own potential.

Lina Marie Schulenkorf is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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