"Mary & # 39; s Testament" in the Theater in der Josefstadt

Painted a thousand times, a thousand times a facet: a woman has never been depicted so often as Mary, the mother of Jesus. Nevertheless, an image dominates the perception: Mary as a pious mother, who bothered for the good of mankind. In his production of Maria & # 39; s Testament & # 39 ;, which has been on show at the Theater in der Josefstadt since Saturday, Elmar Goerden tries to give her voice to the Blessed Mother.

They mock, desperate, deeply sad. Maria, played by Nicole Heesters, is an old woman. Decades after the crucifixion of her son, she has nothing to lose in her exile in the city of Ephesus. That's why she describes what really happened, "then on the hill" and before that. In a one-and-a-half-hour monologue, Heesters tells the audience about their son, whose name does not come from her with pain, about the oppression of his followers and his crucifixion.

Heesters set out on their own in this production of Colm Toibin's thin novel, which was published in the Hamburg Kammerspiele in February. Only two tables flank her, those with household items – potatoes, trough, thermos – empty the other except an apple. Nevertheless, several figures are oppressive. The late husband Josef, symbolized by a wooden chair on the back wall of the room. Two disciples of Jesus, & # 39; watchdogs & # 39; as Maria calls them, who disagree with their secular view of events. The men write in the New Testament and want to record the wonders of Mary's son. And finally, that silent mother of God from the Bible, who never wanted Mary and never wanted to be. As a threat, the characteristic blue cloak is on the podium.

The conversation partners live through the stories of Heester, through their facial expressions, attitude and tone of voice. The actress is only supported by the lighting technique (by Ralf Strobel), which sometimes illuminates parts of the stage in white and gray shades, so that her face looks dark. Another beautiful day: warm, orange light enters the hall and Heesters multiplies gestures as too big shadows on the empty wall behind it.

Nicole Shrubs can be nuanced – a stealthy look on both sides when she uttered something blasphemous, as if she were wondering if the world still existed. She can make big, exuberant gestures, her face red with anger. The piece is written for the 81-year-old, you can tell, there are two who work together with her and the director Goerden who know each other. And even if you buy everything from shrubs, Mary is different. It is not credible that she cares about her son in the first place. The monologue reflects for too long how absurd the actions are attributed to him. How Jesus brought Lazarus to life, or water turned into wine.

The Mary figure is two-dimensional over long distances: whether she mocks the deeds of her son and his followers, or desperately. There is no sense of closeness between her and her son. Her stories are reminiscent of radicalized men, as they read today: they go the wrong way, alienate themselves from their families and believe in the end of the known world order. She stresses again and again that they were only men, "daily losers", dubious figures who could not see a woman in the eye.

The piece tells the story of Mary from a perspective that is probably only considered exceptional in religious education. From a mother who does not understand the naivety and the desire of her environment for simplicity. Mary is a rational woman in a society that speaks about eternal life and miracles. Plots clearly illustrate the different scenes: when the old woman speaks about the crucifixion as "the most embarrassing image people have ever called", or explicitly points out that Jesus is her son of flesh and blood, which she begot with her husband Joseph though you want to convince her otherwise.

"Mary's Testament" questions faith. Not in religion, but in institutions and historiography in general. Maria no longer knows what to remember, she says. Their watchdogs want them to report in a straight line: "to learn a simple lesson from things that are not easy." They want to hear about their mourning at the crucifixion – Heesters talks about horses being sprayed, the smells of the market, tattered rabbits and finally their escape. Their complexity does not fit in with the simple, catchy story of the evangelists.

After ninety minutes the performance ends with the confession of a mother to end her own life compared to that of her son. Only when the Schweinderwerfer Heesters is lit, the initial hesitant applause swells, there are standing ovations. The applause is mainly the actress, then the staging, which also has its length.

(SERVICE – "Mary's Testament" based on the novel by Colm Toibin, director and stage: Elmar Goerden, costumes: Lydia Kirchleitner with Nicole Heesters, a production of the Hamburger Kammerspiele at the Theater in der Josefstadt, Josefstädter Straße 26 , 1080 Vienna on 30 September and on 1, 12 and 13 October, 26 and 27 November, tickets on tel. (01) 42700-300 and on 1, 12 and 13 October, 26 and 27. November, tickets are available at ( 01) 42700-300 and on www.josefstadt.org)

Source: APA

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