Far-Off Sightings of Fascinating People in the Big City
De Wahl
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Critics/Press Releases

„Was that magic realism or surrealism?...The story, told without pause and out of breath always leaves a door open through which the marvelous, magical, fabulous can enter...Coetzee’s narrative is always alienated, fractured, as she only reports of a performance of a (theatre) piece. But the narration is so swift, dazzling, colourful, amusing yet also touching and even deeply sad that we learn: theatre is life, magic and surreal.
The way in which she manages to create all the images in ones head and to tell such a vivid story only with words and a few video projections, is magnificent.”
- Ruhr Nachrihten, 04.10.06

„A short performance with lasting effect...it is hard to withdraw from its maelstrom.“
- Ruhr Post 17.05.05

"The South African, Yvette Coetzee, makes her wonderfully absurd subway tale come to life with charm and wildly overboard fantasy. Wonderful, in the best sense of the word."
- Nürnberger Nachrichten, 07.05.05

"They take the subway day in and day out, but never reach their destination. City-dwellers searching for love, for meaning, for companionship...Coetzee tries to break through this urban thicket. She enters into the depths of the Berlin subway and the human soul. Her theatre fairytale dissects the state of city people who are willing but unable to couple up in a very nuanced way, and holds a mirror up to our anonymous society. "
- Nürnberger Zeitung, 07.05.05

"It can lay bare the grotesque, even sad core of normality. Yvette Coetzee… tells an urban fairytale about the impossibility of real encounters and communication. Her life-size, thin-skinned, bandaged figures show their nakedness, they exhibit their damaged existence: the private, the intimate has long deteriorated to the disenchanted public."  
- Theaterheute, 06.06.05  

"Speaking faster and faster, Yvette Coetzee drives her story forward...she picks passengers out of their anonymity, gives them a personal fate, draws strange characters with eloquent gestures and intertwines their stories with one another...one thing is for certain after this pleasantly unagitated journey into the innards of the city – the next subway trip will be different."
1. Berliner Morgenpost, 28.08.03

Out of breath – Yvette Coetzee conquers Westflügel Lindenfells with her metropolis fairytale „Far-off Sightings of fascinating people in the big city”.

Suddenly she stands there, behind her what appears to be an absurd cabinet of human-size white puppets in front of a white screen, stands in front of us, looks us straight into the eyes, and starts telling a story. A young woman in a peach pink summer dress that reaches to her knees, barefoot, her eyes wide, torn open almost to the point of distortion, hazelnut brown with a secretive, dark glint in them. She seems excited, this woman, almost beside herself. Touched by life, but not necessarily endearingly.
And then - it’s a Friday evening in Westflügel Lindenfels, not many people came to see Yvette Coetzee and her big city fairytale “Far-off Sightings of fascinating people in the big city” - and then she tells us a story, which is a conglomeration of stories from everyday life that Yvette Coetzee made up, or which she probably experienced to a large degree, she has lived in Berlin for 5 years after all, this moloch populated by 3,4 million antlike people who rush through this thicket every day, one third of them by subway. Every day. Yvette Coetzee gives them all a story to take with them on the underground where more than just light disappears. The man who believes to be a fishbowl, the woman with the gap between her front teeth, the man who loves his goldfish, the man who wants to know everything, the man who never has time. And Tom, the main character, who spends 20 hours on the subway. Every day. And the woman who, out of loneliness, phones herself.

Berlin, like every metropolis, gives birth to many such people. People whose private lives are displayed in public without them acknowledging it. Fate often happens en passant. Yvette Coetzee looks at these people, looks at Tom, the woman who leaves herself messages on her answering machine, and all the others, with a large degree of love, maybe because she knows loneliness, having come from Pretoria to Berlin, who knows. And she never denunciates one of the figures of whom she speaks, into whose innermost soul she creeps, so that at times one doesn’t know who she really is – which is terrific. For one hour she runs and stumbles and rushes through the room and through her own text along with Tom and all the other stories, which are after all her stories because she perceives them in herself, almost as if she’s scared of them catching up with her. Director Hendrik Mannes gave this extraordinary, extraordinarily present actress a large amount of freedom, having realised that any attempt to nail down the story would make it anaemic. Even destroy it.

Because there are hardly any possibilities left in this frenetic standstill where time simultaneously crushes and freezes people, Mannes put up a video screen as a kind of memory field on which thoughts which would otherwise disintegrate or disappear, can be captured (animation: Tyson Cross). Sentences that have to explain one’s existence appear on the screen, where one thought that it had been composed, this existence. One must imagine Sysiphus as a happy man, Camus had said. But then it also has to be said, that it’s not easy to be happy.

And then she stands there in front of us, completely drained, with the puppets behind her who, told a lot without saying a word. Stands there and smiles at us. Breathless. She, but also we. A great evening. Also because it never attempted this greatness.     

- Jürgen Otten. Leipziger Volkszeitung, Kultur, 17.07.06, S.9


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