The Coral by Georg Kaiser
Kaiser’s play was first performed at the Munich Kammerspiele in 1917. His plays reflect the hugely important Expressionist movement in theatre also manifested in the texts of Georg Bûchner and Frank Wedekind. Indeed Bûchner ‘s 1836 Woyzek and Wedekind’s 1892-1895 Lulu plays are cousins to the dramas of Georg Kaiser. Expressionism’s birth arose from the brutality of World War One where the breaking of male bodies resulted in a fracture in writing, theatre, visual art, dance and music. It is still a movement which affects us today.
Expressionism also critiqued capitalism and militarism. It was crushed mainly by the Third Reich, although in dance it was used to laud Hitler. Since 1945 Expressionism has been mostly pushed into the Museum.
Therefore, the Finborough’s production elicits admiration for staging such a strange jewel of a play. The work explores the concept of the doppelganger and the fascination for the new science of psychiatry as well as interrogating capitalism itself. There is no desire by Kaiser to personalise or humanise ‘character’. His play is one of ideas, but it also has a strange theatrical magnetism in Emily Louizou’s fine production. She has assembled a gifted cast who are able to play many roles with fluidity and strong theatre skills. it is certainly worth catching this drama to understand the importance of Kaiser in theatre history. He is not as funny or as theatrical as Bertolt Brecht, but he had disturbing ideas reflecting the mood of Germany at the start of the twentieth century when there was a hope that horrors of Nazism might be stopped.
Julia Pascal © 2022.