The Infernal Comedy | The National Concert Hall
Star Rating: 2.5/5
The Infernal Comedy
The National Concert Hall
With Jon Malkovich
By Michael Sturminger
Those who love John Malkovich's disinterested shtick-as I, myself, so often have, may have gotten something out of the Infernal Comedy, which played last Sunday, for one night only, at the National Concert Hall. He was treated to a standing ovation from the always effusive Irish audience.
But there was something distasteful about the whole affair, a missed opportunity to explore the fascinating story of real life Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger, who, having been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a prostitute, was let out again to continue his spree after a clemency campaign was headed by Viennese intelligentsia. Using his new high profile as a writer to his advantage, he reported on his own murders before he was eventually caught up with and took his own life, having choked at least nine more whores with their own brasiers.
This production, by Michael Sturminger, almost lauds and laughs at the actions of a serial killer, lathering it in Malkovich's wry, detached delivery - a one liner here, a subtle comic gesture there, never giving us anything more than was mentioned in the blurb. He was joined by two talented sopranos, who sang arias from Mozart and Vivaldi, amongst others, doubling up as the women in Unterweger's life-the prostitutes, the mothers, the supporters - their soaring vocals wittily undermined by Malkovich's flirting, fazing and fatally wounding of them.
But the juxtaposition of opera and theatre (with accompaniment from a baroque orchestra) isn't pulled off, undermined by the in joke that they were added against Unterweger's wishes, by an editor who is in charge of promoting his tome from beyond the grave. (That's the conceit of the show. It's a purgatorial book signing). And they become annoying distractions when we get close to learning anything about the man who committed these murders.
There was a jovial feel to the whole affair that wasn't undercut by anything else and one wonders if the audience would have rose as fast if it was Ian Huntley making a mockery of his past indiscretions? Has enough time past to add sauce to the sorrow of Unterweger victims? Unlike Jerk, Gisèle Vienne's staging of the multiple homicides committed by David Brooks and two young accomplices in 1970s Texas, which stewed me in the grotesque and intimate details of the viscous murders so that the action permeated my psyche and sickened my stomach, bringing me closer to the horror and sensation of murder than any TV show, film or book ever had, the point of this staging never became clear to me.
Perhaps - at a stretch, it was holding up a mirror to our own blurred distinction between entertainment and due process. But it felt more like a hotch potch of seemingly great ideas that were never strung together coherently.
Review by: Caomhan Keane
Photo © Nathalie Bauer
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 1st June 2012 | Theatre
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