The Robbers New Diorama Theatre 18 November

***(*)

Picture of blackdrop and letter from thefaction FB page

I didn’t know the first thing about The Robbers before attending this performance, and afterwards I had the impression of someone trying to get in references to all of his favourite bits of Shakespeare and at the same time inventing melodrama.  (I guess the Roald-Dahl-flavoured chocolate mention by Franz von Moor was down to translator/adaptor Danny Millar.)

So the idea is that Maximilian von Moor has two sons Franz and Karl.  Franz stays at home and alienates his father from Karl as a result of which the older brother turns his university pals into a band of robbers in the woods of Bohemia.  Then after convoluted plotting he returns in disguise to the ancestral Schloss but cannot free himself from his evil deeds and companions and so his long-lost sweetheart Amalia and almost everyone else end up dead.

Kate Sawyer put in a very strong performance as Amalia and even looked German to me, which is going beyond the call of duty.  She was also very good in their version of Kabale und Liebe,  and surely deserves  to act in front of something more glamorous than black paint–and indeed to act fully clothed.    There was a lovely recognition scene between her and Karl (played by Michael Lindall, though the programme said somebody else).  At that stage, I rather feared a happy ending, but my anxieties were groundless….

The corps de ballet of robbers had some interesting crowd scenes, for instance invading the Schloss von Moor in slow motion–perhaps Diorama means slow motion–and there was an effective directorial coup as the confrontation between Karl and a priest come to talk him out of his wicked ways was plunged into sudden darkness and the interval began.

*I* think this is Michael Tindall as Karl von Moor (from the FB page again)

I had difficulty keeping track of (or caring) which of the robbers was which, and on occasions I also had difficulty in making out what they were saying (especially the uncredited person who was really playing Schweizer).  I would surely have felt some empathy with the coldly-manipulative and finally-ineffective Franz, but Richard Delaney seemed to me neither evil nor pathetic enough.

The black-painted black wall exerted its usual soulsucking effect on me, and the business of chalking correspondence and a ‘Wanted’ poster on it just seemed to take up time rather than adding suspense.  But generally I think thefaction came out ahead in this round of their heavyweight match with Schiller.

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