The Tannery Cassels & Sons Brewery entrance, 3 Garlands Rd, Christchurch

22/02/2012 - 03/03/2012

Temple Gallery, Dunedin

21/03/2012 - 23/03/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

In Hereafter, author and filmmaker Werner Fritsch, described by the German magazine Der Spiegel as “Germany’s boldest poet”, dares to go deep down into the soulscape of a man who all his life was under the spell of the underworld.

Wolf “Sexmachine” Bold, who is a suspect for the murder of his wife Cora, the mother of his son Felix, is beyond reality and hallucination, perhaps even beyond his own body. Before the police can arrest him he is threatened by somebody hiding behind a carnival mask of Hitler and holding a revolver to his head. But who is the man behind the mask?

Director Peter Falkenberg has translated and adapted this radical monologue in which a man reflects in seconds of horror on what remains in his memory and what dominates our pictures of sex and violence.

Hereafter uses video to provide a Christchurch context from an underworld point of view and juxtaposes the often inarticulate male voice with a female singing voice and double-bass that comment upon, balance, counteract and provide an emotional subtext to the production.

This project is a continuation of the collaboration between Fritsch and Free Theatre that in 2008 led to Faust Chroma, nominated for Most Original Production at the 2009 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards and described by Radio New Zealand’s Lynn Freeman as “mind-blowing”, “gutsy” and “quite unlike anything I’ve seen before”.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, Werner Fritsch will be resident in Christchurch during the development of this work and for its premiere on February 22nd at The Tannery when he will be present for a post-show discussion. During his stay, Fritsch will again be hosted by Te Puna Toi (Theatre and Film Studies, UC), which is organizing a preview of Fritsch’s film Faust Sonnengesang.

Free Theatre Christchurch is an award winning experimental theatre company. It has been a major contributor to performance culture in New Zealand and played an important role in the Christchurch community. “For quarter of a century Free Theatre has refined cultural horizons and shaped Christchurch’s perceptions of contemporary theatre.” – The Press, 21 May 2008.    

Free Theatre @ The Tannery
Cassels & Sons Brewery entrance, 3 Garlands Rd
Feb 22, 23, 24, 25 (Wed-Sat) 8pm
Mar 1, 2, 3 (Thurs-Sat) 8pm
For bookings ph. 0800 327 484 / Booking fees may apply. Tickets: $30/$18.
Content may offend.
Cassels & Sons cash bar on site.   

Video Design: Ryan Reynolds
Set: Chris Reddington
Lights: Richard Till
Operator: Greta Bond
Producer: Marian McCurdy
Front of House: Michael Berry

1hr 30min, no interval

Challenging theatre for those with the stomach for it

Review by Terry MacTavish 22nd Mar 2012

Clambering up steep stairs through a tangled inner-city garden to the gorgeous Temple Gallery is an appropriately Gothic-Romantic introduction to this strange nightmarish work.

Christchurch’s Free Theatre has a reputation for pushing the boundaries, and Hereafter smashes right through them. This is a bizarre and confrontational work with its roots in German Expressionism, and it is not for the faint-hearted.

On a stark massage table a man lies naked but for a sheet, beneath a dramatic painting of a woman naked but for her black stockings. On one side a masked figure conjures ominous music from a double-bass, while on the other a woman dressed as a man, wearing a sinister carnival mask of Hitler, menaces the prone man with a gun. Strange mournful sound emanates from the mask, gradually becoming extraordinarily powerful singing, at first in German.

The prone man is Wolf ‘Sexmachine’ Bold, the naked woman his prostitute wife, Cora, who has been brutally murdered. Bold blames his mysterious nemesis, Kloistermeier, but knows he will be the accused. While he awaits his arrest, his mind races crazily through the events that have led him to this: the sordid underworld of pimps and prostitutes; his love for Cora and their son; her betrayal; and her successor Marilyn, a Thai transsexual who is both prostitute and Buddhist.

The frame that held Cora’s portrait is revealed as a screen, where distorted pictures from Bold’s mind flicker briefly. Some are horrific. I’ll strive to forget the gruesome images of pig slaughter, as he recalls how he hoped to be a painter, but was forced to become a butcher. Yet the light on bare flesh and luxuriant hair is warm and beautiful, and Bold often expresses tenderness as well as brutality. Soft images of breast-feeding contrast with those of blood-splattered violence.

For an hour and a half we are subjected to a manic monologue, delivered with unflagging energy and absolute conviction by the remarkable George Parker. This is a virtuoso performance, ably supported by musicians Emma Johnston and Michael Kime. The expressionistic style can invite ridicule, but Parker’s deft handling of both macabre and comic elements effectively controls our response: power indeed.

Under Peter Falkenberg’s experienced direction, Parker lures us into Bold’s tortured mind in a way that transcends realism, and we are brought to share his hallucinatory vision of life. Bold may be trapped, but he possesses a tormented demonic strength, free because he has no desire to live. “I’m not whining for your fucking mercy. I spit on a life without Cora.” His concern now is with the hereafter.

This is undoubtedly challenging theatre. But if you have the stomach for it, you are in for a powerful and memorable experience. 


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A challenge to leave our comfort zones

Review by Lindsay Clark 23rd Feb 2012

From the impact of their earlier collaboration in Faust Chroma [see also] and this bold production in the depths old Woolston Tannery, it is clear that there is both the will and the talent in the Free Theatre team to bring such boundary-crunching work to our startled attention.

It is light years away from the comfortable, the predictable, the classic. It is provocative in the best sense. Peter Falkenberg’s direction is appropriately unflinching. 

Fittingly for theatre which eschews the mainstream, the production venue is away down a bumpy industrial lane, tucked inside a bare shell and set up on a stark concrete floor. No indulgence here, though the bar is operating cheerfully.

The solo actor, playing Wolf ‘Sex Machine’ Bold, is lying, back to us, on a spartan bed. To one side we discern a masked double-bass player, on the other a female figure, wearing a mournful Hitler mask. Together they use sound to underscore the emotions of the actor. On the back wall, the object of his intense gaze, is a framed image of a splayed naked woman. This, we learn, is Cora, his prostitute wife, whom he is accused of murdering.

In one sense, that’s all there is to it. The back story of his life as Cora’s pimp, the birth of their child, his experience of the law, Cora’s betrayal and his lusty doings with another ‘woman’, Marilyn, are related as he reviews his past. But it is the fixation on Cora which shapes his lush carnal fantasies. These are reflected in a stream of associated images on Cora’s frame.  

A parallel thread is set up as the Hitler figure produces a gun to threaten him, and the game of which tormenter is behind the mask runs through to the end. This circumstance works better for me as a metaphor for impotence than as a device to expand the Wolf narration, but the presence of a masked, armed Hitler figure certainly darkens its context.

George Parker becomes a very convincing Wolf, musing his way with matter-of-fact frankness through a story which becomes increasingly desperate. His mad chuckle is even more disturbing, but the performance never loses touch with humanity, debased and violent though it is. His account of the son’s birth and the temporarily idealised images behind his head provide brief respite from the run of things.

He uses a familiar, robustly Kiwi accent and whereas this brings him right into our back yard, the German surnames of various recounted characters sit a little uneasily with it. A minor quibble.

Ryan Reynolds’ video design is complex but seamless, following the skein of fantasy and memory to complement Wolf’s words. Similarly, Michael Kime with his double-bass and Emma Johnston’s extraordinary vocal work sustain and complete the performance.

It is not theatre for every comer. Neither content nor concept echoes the world most of us think we live in, but Free Theatre offers us something more valuable, a challenge to leave that for a little while. 


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