ARC’s production of Marius von Mayenburg’s 2012 play Martyr opened at the Aki Studio last night. It’s presented in an English translation by Maja Zade and directed by Rob Kempson. I think it’s more than a just a direct German to English translation. names have been changed for instance and there are definite shifts in directorial approach from the Berlin production. I think the best way to understand what this is all about is to start with the original German version and how it may have looked to a Berlin audience and then look at how time, space and directorial decisions may affect audience reception.
In 2017 Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists, the Monteverdi Choir and a rather distinguished group of specialist baroque singers toured semi-staged versions of the three main Monteverdi operas, which were also recorded for video. Being a bit skeptical about the idea of videoing semi-staged performances I decided to take a look at L’incoronazione di Poppea (because it’s my favourite of the three) before committing to the trio. Bottom line, despite some stylish singing, good acting and excellent playing I can’t really see the point. There are good fully staged versions of all three operas available on video and, for me, especially watching at home, it’s hard for a semi-staged version to fully engage my attention.