Wolpe!

EIF THEATRE
Wolpe!
4 stars ****
The Hub

HOW MUCH YOU ENJOY THIS magnificently ragged cabaret from Muziektheater Transparant of Ghent will depend on how much you care about the tremendous, swirling tide of utopian hope and totalitarian disaster that was the European politics of the 20th century.   Born in Berlin in 1902, Stefan Wolpe was a musician, composer and idealistic Marxist whose early life was entirely bound up with radical movements in politics and the arts; and in this cabaret, the magnificent Belgian actress Viviane De Muynck – with tenor Gunnar Brandt – not only sings his fierce songs of working-class revolt, but also reflects, in her own improvisatory style, on what the death of so much intelligent hope and idealism means for our society today; while Johan Bossers at the piano offers a glimpse of  Wolpe’s later modernist piano music, still full of the same bold, unyielding radicalism that shaped his early life in 1920’s Berlin.

The result is a profoundly rewarding and unsettling 90 minutes of theatre, startlingly transgressive in its willingness to name and explore the importance of a revolutionary radicalism now so suppressed and forgotten; and richly entertaining in its wise, world-weary view of the strange combination of “agitation and sterility” that characterises our world today, with so much frenzied activity, and so little hope of real political change.

Joyce McMillan

ENDS ENDS

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