Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bach at Leipzig

This might be the best play we've seen at Taproot Theatre! It engages the mind and tickles the funny bone. Attendees were buzzing with their favorites one-liners, chuckling as we left the show.

"The more you know, the more you are rewarded," exclaimed my husband as we walked to the car.

Honestly, it didn't sound very exciting from the description and I wasn't sure we'd enjoy it. Were we happily surprised! The 2 1/2 hour play, Bach at Leipzig by Itamar Moses, was a romp through the pretensions of ambition and twists of personality. From accidental drug overdoses to backstabbings to romantic alliances, the playwright had us doubled over.

The story line? A bunch of organists are vying for the prestigious job of playing at church and leading the music school in Leibzig, Germany. It's 1722, the main organist has just died, and six musicians descend to grab for the power and prestige that they hope comes from the post.
  • the habitual pickpocket and forger
  • the legalist who wants to stick to tradition
  • the innovator who wants change
  • the playboy who collects and discards his mistresses
  • the bumbling diplomat
  • the "always-second-in-line" wanna-be

If you've ever been in hot competition for a job or watched others form and undo alliances to get promoted, you'll recognize the funny business satirized in this play. Mind you, a beautiful description of a fugue and lots of other historical snippets are crammed between the hijinks.

We laughed through the shenanigans of political alliances, musical references, religious infighting, and cultural insights. Running gags sped along like a Bach invention, including spoofs on names, satires on stereotypes, and cleverly repeated motivs. (Each musician exclaims, "If only         , I could be the greatest organist ever." Sure. Sure.)

The costumes are wonderful, the lighting and narration superb - this play kept a steady pace; we were leaning forward in our seats to see what on earth the next twists and turns could be. Just when we thought we'd figured it out, off they went again!

The body acting is hilarious: we howled through the sword-fighting scene. You won't know what to expect next! The surprises keep coming.

I especially recommend it to:
  • those who love satire or sarcasm (the humor never stops) 
  • the ambitious (it will teach you to leave your pretensions behind)
  • the academic or historian (the historical fiction is mind-boggling)
  • the musician or music student (you'll recognize most of the musical references and maybe learn some new ones). This is one a music teacher could happily recommend to students!
  • the playwright or storyteller (for the clever language and compelling tale)
  • those who just want a fun night out, this will do it.
The play runs through June 15. Don't miss it! Click here for tickets.

Tickets provided the reviewer by Taproot. All photos by Erik Stuhaug.

No comments:

Post a Comment