There are supposed to be people who know whole passages from the “Sissi” films by heart. And there should be – less – people who know the “Sissi” films but thought they were fiction. In other words, real fiction like “Winnetou”, not just history decorated like a fairy tale. Both factions appear in the new Volkstheater production “Oh Sisi – Ninety-nine Scenes”. On Wednesday, the Corona-related postponed premiere of the piece, which cabaret artist and songwriter Rainald Grebe developed together with the ensemble, took place. Each of the eight members of the ensemble plays the Sisi at least once – sometimes all of them at once.
The long Sisi night
99 scenes sound like a lot, how will that end in two hours, one wonders. The rapid start of this revue quickly gives the answer. The parentheses of the piece is a “Sisi radio night” on the format radio 88.6: “Your life, your death, your rock ?? n ?? roll”. Anna Rieser is formidable as an attention-deficit moderator and Christoph Schüchner beatboxes all the jingle stuff. To go with this, the actors sing – accompanied by a live band (Simon Frick, Chistoph Haritzer, Jens-Karsten Stoll) on stage – newly set poems by Empress Elisabeth. Sometimes as a hit, sometimes as rap, sometimes as a Rammstein roar with a Klezmer excursion. Sometimes with marching choreography, sometimes with crinoline ballet on roller armchairs.
In between there are scenes that either deal with the myth of Sisi itself or with Vienna’s fundamental weakness for imperial kitsch. One hour of training for the Lipizzaner horses, for example, is wonderfully stupid, as they hop across the stage as hobby horses, with Andreas Beck as the conférencier, who explains that some horses are not yet white because they “only get moldy when they get old”. Already the beginning, when Tilla Kratochwil wanted to tell about Elisabeth’s murder (quote from the Empress: “What actually happened?”) And is abruptly interrupted. The facts are of no interest to Sisi.
Loves Hungary, damn it!
The set consists of a white wall with a huge door and small windows. One opens and in a home-shopping manner, Kratochwil offers all sorts of Sisi merchandise in a lush robe, right up to Sisi tampons and Sisi corona tests. In addition to the marketing of the imperial projection surface, many other aspects come up, some very funny, such as her love for Hungary: Balász Varnai rules the audience in a great fit of rage and in Hungarian (women’s) costume, kindly loud “szeretem magyarországot” (I love Hungary) to say. As Archduchess Sophie, Anke Zillich has to justify herself in the radio talk about why she was so mean to her daughter-in-law.
Susanna Peterka tells in the “love stories and marriage matters” style how in real life the romance of Karlheinz Böhm and Romy Schneider somehow didn’t work out for the average movie viewer. Uwe Schmieder is both the stage master of the musical “Elisabeth” as well as the steward, who tells in quick succession what kind of organization an empress like this with a 72-person entourage in France actually meant in terms of organization. In the end, his responsible roles become blurred.
Hair fetish, health madness, alleged affairs, Greek breaks, the imperial hymn in punk version – hardly anything is left out here. Less would probably have been more. “Ach Sisi” starts off brilliantly as something that could be described as a modern folk comedy in our time of fast cuts. Unfortunately, Grebe’s piece runs out of air after all. A little less musical gags and the waiver of video clips (psychiatrist Michael Musalek with remote diagnosis) might have brought the necessary condensation here.
Nevertheless, an entertaining evening at the theater, and also with a scandal revelation: There is no violet ice cream at Demel!