Sunday, June 19, 2011


Last night we went to see John Malkovitch in The Infernal Comedy at the Barbican.

The story of Jack Unterweger - presented here as a stage-play for a Baroque-Orchestra, two sopranos and one actor, by Michael Sturminger - is a fascinating one.

Sentenced to life for strangling a prostitute in 1974, he turned to writing in prison - so successfully that the Austrian intelligentsia campaigned for his release after serving a minimum 15-year term, to which the authorities agreed, believing him rehabilitated.

Subsequently he killed at least another nine women, both in Europe and the US - all the while reporting as a journalist on his own crimes - before his final arrest in Florida.

If we imagine, that I am the killer, what could possibly be more intriguing, than to gain all the information about the state of police investigations concerning the murders I have committed. Soon I am producing radio interviews with anxious hookers, asking them about the murderer out there, waiting to strike again.

Soon I am talking to policemen and detectives and they are informing me about their strategies, approaches and policies.
Can you imagine the strange feeling of supremacy, of omnipotence, of getting away with anything. I have something like a permission to kill women, without being caught. If I want to, I can just pick up a girl on the next corner...

The piece is structured as a series of monologues by Unterweger, interspersed with a sequence of concert arias by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and Weber – music intended to depict female vulnerability and at the same time extremes of desire, rage, and despair.

However, despite a consistent and believable performance from Malkovitch, I was left feeling emotionally disconnected with the whole thing. I found it hard to sympathise with the two sopranos, finding the music and the involvement of the orchestra intrusive as if it were part of something else.


SteveA said...

That story is so unbelievable it can only be true - it sounds very artistic, and dark! I would have loved to see it!

liminalD said...

I didn't see this post at first... I emailed to ask if you'd been to see anything lately! Sounds bizarre and a bit emotionally exhausting :P


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