The House of Fitzcarraldo
by Buran Theatre
March 7-11, 15-17 @ 8pm at The Brick in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Directed by Nikolas Weir
Scenic & Lighting Design by Nick Kostner
Costume Design by Christy Artzer
Light & Sound Operated & Stage Managed by Amy Bourque
Music by Christopher Luxem & Casey Mraz
Lyrics by Henrt Bial & Adam Burnett
Jud Knudsen – Klaus Kinski
Adam R. Burnett – Werner Herzog/Ernest Shackleton
Hilary Kelman – Walter/The Captain
Henry Bial – The Man in the Purple Suit
Brady Blevins – the Native/Don Aquilino
Geraldo Mercado – Les Blank
Christopher Luxem – Luxem
Amy Virginia Buchanan – Leifer
“Talking about art is like thinking about killing a man.” Or so sings the Buran Theatre Company in The House of Fitzcarraldo, a theatrical work of meaningful mayhem currently running at The Brick in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So what dare I say? This utterly enjoyable and ceaselessly provoking piece of theater defies any coherent interpretation, summary, or explanation. It is a mish-mashed, cartoonish, envelope-pushing, boundary-crossing, unstoppably stimulating circus, guaranteed to keep the attention of the television-addicted, ADD audience of today. It is drama like this that promises to maintain the precious art of theater in this day and age.
Inspired by a Werner Herzog film starring Klaus Kinski about a rubber baron attempting to pull a steamship over a mountain in Peru to realize his dream of building an opera house in the Amazon—and by the actual story of the making of the film, during which Herzog and Kinski actually did move a steamship over a hill—The House of Fitzcarraldo is a menagerie in which everything is constantly breaking apart, coming together, and breaking apart again. And though it is zany and all over the place, it is truly a complete and coherent whole with an important overarching thematic thrust: the exploring and exploding of boundaries and limits. Distinctions between audience and performer, self and other, speaker and spoken, here and there, past and future, dreams and reality, native and foreign, us and them, you and I—these dichotomies are all called into question by the imaginative form and content of this work, and the result is fantastically titillating.
The most delightful aspect of Fitzcarraldo is the obvious extreme enjoyment that the actors take in performing it. The ensemble is extremely strong, full of impeccable comedic timing and the unabashed baring of body and soul. They truly play this play—and encourage the audience to play along. Perhaps just as delightful is the extreme play on form—actors lip-synching to canned voices, action constantly breaking through the fourth wall, shadow puppetry, spontaneous song and dance, and technical staff joining in on the fun. The story—if there even is one, which there really isn’t—is completely unfollowable, and in this way the piece cleverly denies us even the remotest possibility of intellectually “following along.” We are forced to let go, to be utterly in the moment, to experience each second as it is, for what it is. And these moments, in all their wet and wild variety, are joyous, hysterical, and surely not to be missed.