Eraritjaritjaka: Musee De Phrases

SURREAL and utterly beguiling are probably the most apt descriptions of a Heiner Goebbels event, part of the German composer/director’s appeal is his ability to defy definition. Certainly "music theatre" hardly seems adequate to describe the fusion of music, art, theatre, video, literature and even a brief nod to science and engineering that come together in the extraordinary Eraritjaritjaka: Musee de Phrases. As the last part in a trilogy which Goebbels wrote for the superb French actor André Wilms, the piece takes as its starting point the history of the string quartet. To begin with the Mondriaan Quartet played the first movements of Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet. Wilms joins them reciting a "museum of phrases" from Auto-da-fe - the only novel written by Bulgarian writer and critic Elias Canetti. This fragmentary discourse about life takes on new meaning when Wilms exits from the stage and the theatre. His journey by car through the streets of Edinburgh to a flat off Nicholson Street is conveyed by a real-time video camera onto a screen in the shape of a large house. Wilms then cooks an omelette, cutting up the onions in perfect time to the pizzicato movement of Ravel’s Quartet. He is joined in the flat by the quartet and then as if by magic, they are all transplanted into the interior of the stage house from which they emerge for the finale. A performance of the exhilarating and intriguing work of Goebbels should be mandatory every festival.

Susan Nickalls
The Scotsman (GB), 30 August 2004