Munich Now is the second installation in One Yellow Rabbit’s Tangled Tongue trilogy a madcap effort to present plays in different languages with subtitles. The actors learn their lines by memorizing the phonetics whether effectively or not you won’t know unless you speak the language.
In the case of Munich Now obviously you’ll have to speak German to know whether they pull of the lines. For the rest of us there are subtitles (or supertitles?) projected over the stage.
The premise is that you’re the live audience watching a German talk show in real time complete with commercial breaks. Onstage two guests a German television journalist and a celebrity chef try to determine the identity of a special secret guest by way of questions. Once they determine his identity the two invite him onstage and proceed to conduct the interview.
The characters are fantastic in this production. Christopher Hunt as the flamboyant and needy celebrity chef is excellent and hilarious — his restaurant Tantris is searching for a way to make a Tantric Milkshake that lasts three-and-a-half hours. Denise Clark is spot on in her portrayal of the pseudo-intellectual television journalist who takes herself very seriously (and who travelled to Cairo for her latest work and feels gulty for hanging out in the Starbucks near Tahrir Square). Andy Curtis is perfectly aloof and self-absorbed as the mystery guest who everyone thinks is oh so very interesting and Devon Dubnyk does well with his smaller role as the affable host of the program.
Munich Now skewers the notions of fame and self-promotion the bloated egos and insane chatter of talk shows and celebrity professions. The dialogue is often absurd or just skirting the outer fringes of absurdity and for the first 20 minutes or so it was nothing but laughter and anticipatory giggles while waiting for the next line to drop.
However the show fails to maintain its momentum throughout. There are moments that drag and at times the production is not able to maintain the premise. Long stretches lose the plot and it’s hard to imagine that you’re still supposed to be watching a television talk show. Each of the main characters take their turn giving longer speeches that kill the momentum of the performance. There were also technical glitches with the subtitles on opening night with some sections passing at lightning speed with no chance of reading the dialogue.
But those faults are few and despite some down moments the overall production is hilarious insightful and unique. The spare set design the near flawless flawed characters and the absurd mirror held up to a certain kind of pop culture makes Munich Now a production well worth your time. This is One Yellow Rabbit in fine form.