Spending the money (on the MoveOp! Festival at NeuKoellner Oper) was worth it. Even what you got to see the first two days of the festival was many times better than the productions of the so-called music theatre focus at this year’s “Maerzmusik” which receives far more tax breaks and funding. The dull silliness of Chicko Mellos’s “Pills or Serenades”, shown in March with an elaborate production at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, seems almost disgraceful compared to a piece as incredibly strong as “The Garden” which was premiered at the Sound Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2012.
A man (Alan McHugh) and a woman (Pauline Knowles) notice that something green is suddenly growing out of the concrete floor in their small kitchen. “Pull it up!” says the man. “Why?” replies the woman, “at least something is alive in our house where everything usually dies.” And so they begin to debate their whole lives in greatest psychological depth.
The man works for a miserably paid subcommittee which researches climate change, and compensates for his stress with alcohol. His wife, in the meantime, goes crazy staying at home and takes antidepressants. Whilst their speaking turns more and more into singing, performed to electronic music by John Harris, the two of them rediscover their emotional connection and decide to race each other, taking pills until they are lost to the world together. The acting and vocals are directed so intensively by Zinnie Harris that this opera, with its two actors, can compete with the best of British or Northern European contemporary cinema.
(Translated by Vroni Holzmann)
See below for the original review in German