The Moving Company's latest production draws from the works of Johann von Goethe and Thomas Mann to tell an unrequited love story. "Werther and Lotte, the Passion and the Sorrow" runs through April 15 at the Lab Theater in Minneapolis.
Critics find the show rich in material and thoroughly enjoyed the performances by Christina Baldwin and Nathan Keepers. Read on for excerpts of their reviews, or click on the links to read them in full.
Christina Baldwin and Nathan Keepers in "Werther and Lotte"
Image courtesy of The Moving Company
Long before Beatlemania, the cult of "Twilight" or any other familiar celebrity obsession, there was the phenomenon of "Wertherism." Goethe's semi-autobiographical novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" created such a sensation when it was published in 1774 that young men copied the protagonist's clothes, and young women yearned to inspire such undying passion. The MovingCompany's distilled re-imagining, "Werther and Lotte, the Passion and the Sorrow", shakes the cobwebs off this classic and demonstrates once again the emotional heft at its core.
Charlotte often gets short shrift in retellings of the story--see Jules Massenet's opera Werther for a prime example--but here Baldwin keeps her character completely grounded, wishing that her friend would understand that she was never available in the first place. In contrast, Keepers fully embodies Werther's descent, becoming increasingly disheveled and erratic before making his final appointment with a dueling pistol.
Theater is perhaps the most collaborative of the arts, bringing diverse elements into one cohesive whole. It is rare, however, that all the pieces become one, but this is the way this play feels: one piece, not many pieces stuck together. Movement and dance, live music and recorded, video projections and lighting, even the costumes and costume changes, were performance. There was no set, per se, only a few set pieces and props, but every single one was used--not peripherally, but as an integral part of the whole. Nobody does this better; it was simply beautiful to watch and to hear.
Have you seen "Werther and Lotte?" If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.