Munich Residence Theater: Eugène Labiche’s “The Affair Rue de Lourcine” – Culture

Eugène Labiche’s “The Rue de Lourcine Affair” is a very funny play. The reindeer Lenglumé wakes up in the morning with a huge hangover, he had sneaked into a meeting of old school friends on the opening act without the knowledge of his wife Norine. The meeting was evidently profound. He finds Mistingue next to him in bed, who was also at the drinking party. Two gentlemen, two tomcats, two memory lapses. A note that Norine reads in the newspaper falls into these gaps: A coal carrier has been murdered. And since the hands of the two gentlemen are black with coal dust and there are other clues, the two believe they are the murderers. Which leads to adventurous volts.

In 1857, Labiche wrote a true theatrical boulevard thriller that lures audiences like honey attracts bears. Performing the play now may be exactly the right choice in this post-corona period when theaters have to ensnare the audience. So everything was done right at the Munich Residenztheater – the next ten performances following the premiere are already sold out.

But it won’t be as funny as hoped. The first indication of this is already provided by the cast, because under the names of the five performers – apart from the couple Lenglumé and Mistingue there is also the domestic worker Justine and the cousin Potard – Christoph Karstens as live cameraman. You can simply downplay Labiche’s play, especially in Elfriede Jelinek’s translation, if you are precise and have good actors. It really doesn’t need any fuss. Now the director András Dömötör also has good actors; but they find it difficult to assert themselves against the thousand ideas that Dömötör has without consistently pursuing a single one.

Anyone can become a killer when drunk

It begins, as you can see in the video, with Thomas Lettow not waking up as Lenglumé, but drifting to the surface like a drowning man and then actually physically scrambling out of the substructure onto the stage, where there is a construct made of eight cubes, into the Sigi Colpe has incorporated funny things, among other things, a spatially existing memory gap from a black venetian blind. Banknotes are stuck to the walls – the bourgeoisie has long lost its morale, which is not okay if you settle it with money, including the two drinking buddies, with Dömötör they are actually two sides of the same coin, and are less concerned that they might murder someone have, but more that it might come out.

So now appear: Barbara Horvath as Justine, who sometimes speaks Hungarian with dry humor, with surtitles, and later gropes around as a strange ghost. Pujan Sadri as Potard, who usually stands around extremely friendly and quite adorable. Mareike Beykirch as Norine, who gives Dömötör a touch of enlightened emancipation, but also stages her as a caring little house when she’s not playing the Lenglumés’ baby. Beykirch is really poor here, Lettow and Michael Wächter as Mistingue are doing a little better. The two highly talented comedians at least create moments in which they can act out the comedy with elastic timing.

Otherwise everything is racing. Sometimes people look horizontally out of one of the boxes, then there’s a lot of drinking because it’s always funny, and in the end it all ends in the cinema. In the catacombs of the Residenztheater – the site visit is interesting – Lenglumé-Mistingue set about eliminating witnesses to their deed, you see an ad hoc splatter film, which is far too erratic to really be a nightmare. Of course, anyone can become a murderer when drunk, maybe even is, Dömötör gives the whole thing a hint, although the murder actually happened a long time ago, because the newspaper in which Norine read about it was old. In addition, there are a few theatrical jokes about the theatre, in its patchwork outrage the production constantly stumbles over itself, but contains enough jokes to animate the audience to laughter again and again. So be it.

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