I’ve been in Brooklyn hanging out with JT Ros and we’ve been ODing on performance art, theater, bands, and everything cool. It’s like I went to a hipster travel agency or something. Anyway, the other night on the helL train I read Adam Feldman’s review in Time Out New York on the play Quartett and I barfed. Adam Feldman has inspired a new paranoia that will haunt me for the rest of my life – always be superficial and take a quick peep at a who you are getting information from because I do judge people based on appearances. Thanks Adam, your old money connections and conservative leftist attitude may have gotten you your dream job and I’m sure an attractive someone somewhere is sucking your cock for all the free tickets thrown your way but those pursed lips and beady can’t fool me… gurl, you need to take your ass back to a gender studies class cause you obviously do not understand the brilliance behind the play Quartett. You are obviously jaded to true contemporary vision, and oblivious to the importance of queer heterosexuality in politics, life and storytelling. Ok. Isabelle Huppert and Robert Wilson I love you and for you I’m going to deconstruct Adam Feldman’s review. Everything in italics is my response to Adam Feldman’s review in Time Out New York.
“Isabelle Huppert is cold and hot,” writes Robert Wilson in a brief program note for Quartett. “Isabelle Huppert is cerebral and intuitive. She is small and large.” This marvelous little formulation at least gives the audience a fun parlor game to play on the way home from an otherwise unsatisfying night at BAM.
After my night at BAM I felt thoroughly satisfied. Isabelle Huppert‘s performance is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Since I saw the play about a week ago, I’ve heard her screaming Valmont incessantly. She’s haunting me. It’s kind of terrifying. I imagine her plucking out my eyes and rubbing them into her vagina like Marcelle did in The Story of the Eye. She’s just laughing at me while I’m crawling around blind. My last image is of her in that beautiful blue dress with her crazy hairdo. Thankfully, in real life time, after the show I wasn’t blind and actually just headed over to Junior’s to gloat on money well spent on theater and stuff a huge slice of Brooklyn’s best cheesecake in my mouth. Obviously, my friends and I know how to have a good time.
Isabelle Huppert is slender and obese. Isabelle Huppert is profligate and thrifty. She is paper and plastic. She is Isabelle Huppert and she is Hisabelle Uppert. Try it at home!
What do you mean, Adam Feldman, by “try it at home”?????
It is a testament to Huppert’s enormous (and tiny!) talent that she gives a fascinating performance in a production that otherwise teeters on camp.
American writer Susan Sontag’s essay “Notes on “Camp” (1964) emphasized its key elements as: artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and ‘shocking’ excess. Camp as an aesthetic has been popular from the 1960s to the present, and arguably peaked in the decades of the 1970s, 1980s, and to some extent the 1990s as well. When I think of the artists that embody camp I think of John Waters, Bette Midler, George and Mike Kuchar,Dolly Parton, Liberace, Divine, Lady Gaga and Ryan Trecartin. The play is very theatrical, yes. But since when does theatricality equal camp? I saw the play as stark, vulgar, minimal, and ultimately serious. This isn’t a hooker with a heart of gold story, there is nothing silly here, this is an examination of sexuality, desire, and primal instincts that surely is humorous at times but ultimately it is dark and isolating. But like srsly… I love camp!!!!!
In Heiner Müller’s venomous deconstruction of Choderlos de Laclos’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Huppert plays the wily Merteuil opposite Ariel Garcia Valdès’s Kabuki devil of a Valmont; their dozen pages of dialogue (translated from German into French) are stretched into 90 minutes by the addition of loud sound effects and striking pools of colored light.
When Huppert speaks, often repeating her lines over and over—is she rehearsing them to perfection, or grinding them to nonsense?
Theater is about multiple perspectives; the characters interactions with each other and their inner thoughts, the audiences multitude of viewing perspectives and the fact that every audience member is bringing their own insular view to the show, and the visual spectacle of the stage. I know repetition is a technique Robert Wilson uses a lot and no it wasn’t successful every time he uses it but what he was trying to do was click viewers into the mindset that we should be considering the multitude of perspectives. Repetition emphasizes meaning and in the case of Quartett helped push the performance beyond the surreal and helped the characters transcend. The repetition finds success in readying the audiences minds to accept the multitude of perspectives. This is especially true in Isabelle’s opening monologues, when the repetition serves as a guide into a meta theatrical world of possibilities. Isabelle’s use of repetition accompanied with her vocal inflections supported the simultaneous breakdown and transformation she is expressing to her dear Valmont.
—she is riveting.
But she is surrounded by portentous silliness: At times the actors stick out their tongues like reptiles, because, you see, the characters are cold-blooded; Michael Galasso’s score bangs out arpeggios as three nonspeaking performers strike dancey poses, sometimes pantless, sometimes wearing—gasp!—a single high-heeled shoe.
When the piece isn’t obsessing about death, it is delving into erotics, but Wilson’s frigid aesthetic makes the enterprise about as sexy as a Popsicle. Honed by the director’s exacting style, Quartett is sharp and dull.—Adam Feldman
Isn’t she precious…”
Robert Wilson doesn’t need us to defend him as his roll as a theatrical visionary is unparalleled. This was a collaborative written effort by sebastian sebastiani and broken brooklyn in the wee hours of the morning to help us get back to our sanity after reading such a god awful review by someone so taken care of “monetarily”.