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A CurtainUp Review

Mr Kolpert
By Lizzie Loveridge

Mr Kolpert is a new play by the young German playwright David Gieselmann which blends the black comedy of Joe Orton's Loot (1965) with the most delightful observation of a couple entertaining another, since Alison Steadman wowed the nation in Mike Leigh's improvised comedy, Abigail's Party (1977). Those of a delicate disposition, be warned -- the humour is of the very darkest.

The situation is this. Rolf Droht, a chaos researcher and his girl friend Sarah Kenner are looking for the ultimate in excitement. They have asked round to dinner Bastian and Edith Mole, whom they tantalise with a story about a murder they have committed earlier. They claim that the victim is Mr Kolpert, an unassuming man from accounts whom both Sarah and Edith work with. Droht says that his body is in a trunk in the room and although this is treated as a joke, when the sound of knocking is heard from the trunk, the Moles start to believe them. Edith says that she has had an affair at work with Mr Kolpert. The trick is to keep shifting the games playing so that no-one is sure whether or not they are telling the truth. The pizza delivery man, a hapless victim, is caught up in this strange party.

Much of the play's humour depends on the social behaviour of the couples. David Tushingham's translation is unobtrusively smooth. The dialogue bristles with the quirkiness of the theatre of the absurd. Director Richard Wilson, well known as an actor and comedian, knows what makes audiences laugh and nurtures the sense of the ridiculous.

Ralph (Adam Godley) is tall, thin and lanky with a face that looks half mischievous, half rather odd. No one could forget Ralph looking directly at us, his face impassive but plastered with chocolate. Sarah (the attractive Amanda Drew) seems to be getting turned on by the game as she radiates sexual frisson. She eggs Ralph on with a single flirtatious look.

Bastian, (Darren Boyd -- Tall, blonde, muscular and bearded, like a Viking) is a bad-tempered architect and a diabetic on a permanent hypo. He lacks any sense of houmour and has an unpredictability that is frightening. Bastian's wife, Edith (Melanie Ramsey) is more sociable and initially goes along with playing the game, although she does not understand the rules.

Julian McGowan's bright and dazzling ultra modern apartment is dominated by a grid of Japanese paper lanterns. Johanna Town has some lighting tricks to play at crucial moments, bathing the set in blood red. The Moles commence the play clothed in white designer linen which become crumpled and creased -- and by the end of the play is splattered with tiramisu, pizza and blood. Olly Fox's modern music sounds like a car factory in the midst of production.

Whilst Mr Kolpert will make you laugh at its excesses, the ending does not shock. The play never leaves the comedy zone. Nudity has almost become de rigueur on the London stage and the dead bodies are merely untidy, not heart wrenching.

Written by David Gieselmann
Directed by Richard Wilson

With: Adam Godley, Amanda Drew, Melanie Ramsay, Darren Boyd, Callum Dixon
Set Design: Julian McGowan
Lighting Design: Johanna Town
Sound Design: Paul Arditti
Composer: Olly Fox
Running time: One hour 15 minutes without an interval
Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at The Royal Court, Sloane Square, London SW1
Box Office: 020 7589 3203
Booking to 20th May 2000
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 9th May 2000 performance

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