Sturm und drang


Krankenhaus Blues


Written by Sam Forman
Directed by Donna Mitchell
Equity showcase (closed)
Visible Theatre Company
Abingdon Theatre
Reviewed by Seth Bisen-Hersh


Krankenhaus Blues is a mixed bag. There are some incredibly poignant moments hidden in some meandering, nonsensical ones. However, it is rarely boring and the good moments outnumber the bizarre. And even the bizarre ones aren’t bad… they’re just bizarre.


There really isn’t a plot to relate, as the show is broken into vignettes; some monologues, some tiny scenes. There are three characters – the Jewish writer, Bruno (Bill Green), a crippled singer, Anka (Christine Bruno) and a limping clown, Fritz (Joe Sims). Bruno mostly has monologues about being a Jewish, single writer in New York City. He attempts to be as specific as possible because he hears that’s universal. Anka and Fritz have melodramatic scenes, sometimes interspersed with Weill-like musical numbers. By the end, the three have merged into the same scene. The show mentions modern things, yet is sort of taking place in Nazi Germany at the same time. It is perhaps a dream world trying to reflect on past atrocities with a modern sensibility.


The show is about loneliness and disconnecting from the world. There are many topics touched upon that the average theatergoer might not enjoy – incest, genocide, bestiality, etc – but those who enjoy pushed envelopes, will enjoy them. It obviously takes a certain sensibility to enjoy the line “I want to fuck my dead father.”


All three actors were exquisite, impassioned and committed to the intensity of the script. They made the audience care about them, which really helped to sell the piece. One of the best parts of the show was the accompaniment on violin by Helen Yee. Having a live violinist added a layer of melancholy, while the music helped to transcend the melodrama.


Donna Mitchell made good use of the intimate space. The pacing and energy onstage worked very well. Technically, the show worked fine. Kimi Maeda’s set and costumes were functional, as was Paul A. Jepson’s lighting design.


One of the song titles is “An Existential Lament.” That title sums up the play exactly. As with all laments, there is much rambling, but when an epiphany breaks through, it is worth the wait. As Bruno says off-handedly at one point, the play is “all over the place, but has some good stuff in it.” So, it is definitely worth seeing Krankenhaus Blues if you can relate to the lonely existence most New Yorkers face daily and have the sensibility to enjoy some obscene topics.


Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting: 2/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2006 Seth Bisen-Hirsh