Between the past and the future in a room without a door – Benchem

benchim “möwe.live” is now the second play on screen by young actors and actresses about Cosmea Spelleken. In early 2020, the collective theater “Punktlive” presented Goethe’s epistolary novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”. However, in this case, the model for this play is not Goethe, but Anton Chekhov with the drama “The Seagull”. However, this production is also designed explicitly for the digital space. Before, during and after the performance, viewers have the opportunity to interact with the characters via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and co. to continue.

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Production is about loneliness, longing, and failure to communicate honestly. In the two-hour show, viewers can follow the three protagonists Kostja Treplejow (Nils Hohenhövel), Nina Sarajetschnaja (Klara Wördemann) and Mascha Schwamrajew (Johnny Hoff) composing WhatsApp messages, browsing the social media accounts of their friends and relatives, or chatting via Zoom. Scenes from the present are repeatedly interrupted by entries from the video diaries of Boris Trigorin (Janning Kanert), girlfriend of Kostia Arkadina (Ulric Arnold) mother, showing moments from last summer.

Last summer is nothing more than a distant memory of the three protagonists of the novel, Kostja, Nina and Mascha. The three have been separated since this summer. Social media only gives them insight into other people’s lives. Kostya, a successful young artist, Nina, an actress in Wings, and Masha, a father will be. But appearance is deceptive. Nothing is perfect in the lives of the three heroes.

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This is already hinted at in the first scene of the play. Seagulls lying dead on the side of the road. The symbol leaves its interpretation to the viewer. Maybe a seagull represents the life of Kostya, who would like nothing more than to leave him, to be free and fly? Or for an upcoming negative change in the situation? The rest of the production is also based on this self-explanatory concept. The plot keeps hidden clues that point to future events. It is up to the viewer to find them. A complex detective game for theater lovers.

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It’s the little details in the form of desktop wallpapers, open side tabs, notes or deleted messages that reveal a lot about the characters. According to the motto “Right in the middle rather than just being there,” the viewer feels capable of stepping into the action at any moment. A simple click with your computer mouse to close a WhatsApp window or write your Instagram post? A different kind of seduction raises questions at the same time. Some of them are “Would I send the message?” or “What if he doesn’t delete this message?” The screen does not look like a wall between the audience and the theatrical character, but rather a bridge. Lots of unspoken words spread through the digital space, capturing viewers in front of their screens.

Four walls, one door and yet there is no escape. So does Kostya. Fascinated by a play he sits in his room and writes. Act 4, scene 3. Male, T, lying in bed. The apartment in Berlin is dark. Only the light from his cell phone gives him the light to turn on his bedside lamp. Sad melody beeping from his stereo system. After several scenes, the viewer sees this scene staged. Kostya plays music, then the scene changes. Just like his play, don’t go beyond the fourth act.

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With “möwe.live” Cosmea Spelleken creates a new form of theatre. The play combines film, theater, fiction and reality. He plays with contradictions. Harmonious memories of summer holidays in France, where everything seemed to be fine, contrast with the harsh present. It raises questions and critiques the behavior of society and offers a new perspective on theatre. But at the end of the show, it’s not about old or new forms of theater, it’s just about the story being told, and it’s more than just worth watching.

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Louisa Roche, AKG Bensheim

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