Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Saturday, February 2, 2013

She She Pop at On the Boards: What We Talk About When We Don't Know How to Talk About Death

Posted by on Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 12:37 PM

  • Doro Tuch

Testament at On the Boards, by German performance collective She She Pop, made and performed with their septuagenarian fathers, is provoking strong personal reactions—just trying to parse and write about it has tied me up in knots for the past 48 hours.

The driest possible description: In Testament, the middle-aged performance artists and their fathers use King Lear as a springboard to talk about mortality and parent death, with some brutally frank and personal exploration of resentments between aging parents and their children.

Some of the reactions I've gotten via email from friends and colleagues in the past 48 hours:

The audience went quite crazy for the Germans at the On the Boards show Testament. People wouldn't let them leave the stage after a standing o and many in the audience were crying. Really wonderful - would love to talk to you about it.

I’m not sure what you made of it, but it’s feeling like a really significant piece. I still feel tender this morning.

I know you must be going. Please assure me that you are going? I was exhilarated and sobbed like never happens in the theater!

The performance left me embarrassingly weepy—but given some parent-death experience in my distant and recent past, I'm a sucker for that kind of a thing. Other friends I've talked with said they felt like the performance was overly manipulative and maudlin.

Yes, Testament is manipulative—unabashedly so. During one particularly emotional sequence, a performer slowly hoists up a white cloth that looks like a handkerchief, like they're daring you to not cry. The show knows it's fucking with your emotions, but it's fucking with them for good reasons—to explore facts that we all experience (or will, sooner or later) but rarely confront and discuss that honestly.

As performance, it feels like a sadomasochistic transaction: If you're receptive to its manipulations, and willing to subject yourself to the pain it wants to inflict, Testament is deeply exhausting and deeply rewarding.

Either way, Testament is provocative. I have yet to hear anyone say it left them feeling indifferent.

Find tickets and more information at the OtB website.


Comments (4) RSS

Newest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I liked several moments of this show. But I found it SO difficult to read the captions in the dark up top while watching the action on the ground. In fact, I had a terrible headache after two hours of reading, to the point where I felt ill. I could see how it would have been an incredible show if you understood a single word of German, but for me it was just speed reading.

I'm a season ticket holder, and the last international show was all in Spanish, so reading another performance was disappointing.
Posted by mitten on February 3, 2013 at 6:30 PM · Report this
Mixed feelings. The strongest moments, for me, were during the reenactments of recorded conversations from the rehearsal/development process. Imagine reciting, onstage, in tears, your earlier refusal to participate in a such a performance, on the grounds that it is emotionally voyeuristic.
Posted by DVNODVNO on February 3, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 2
Everyone is aging. No one stays young and pretty for ever. But so few think about that time. Such a play makes one think about the undesirable facts of one's life; growing old. Some people will have children to take care of them. Many will not, and it appears those people are not building community now, with the hope of some company in the later years. They are spending time on-line in a false community.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 2, 2013 at 5:22 PM · Report this
katrat 1
German theater is so different from American theater: it can reach a raw core which I suppose can feel manipulative to some people? I suspect a lot of productions only wish they could achieve the honesty and relevance I felt from this production.
Posted by katrat on February 2, 2013 at 2:39 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Commenting on this item is available only to registered commenters.

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy