Lebensraum

  • Director: Jakop Ahlbom
  • Theatre:Jakop Ahlbom Company
  • Hosting Theatre:Kote Marjanishvili State Professional Drama Theater (Big Stage)
  • Date:
    • 4 October - 20:00 hr,
    • 5 October - 20:00 hr,

Directed by  Jakop Ahlbom
Composer    Alamo Race Track
Designer     Douwe Hibma and Jakop Ahlbom
Photograper Sanne Peper 
Duration 60 min

Cast: Jakop Ahlbom, Silke Hundertmark, Reinier Schimmel, Leonard Lucieer, Ralph Mulder

About performance: 
two men are living together in a single tiny room. They have ingenuously solved the problem of lack of space. All the furniture has multiple functions: the bed doubles as a piano and the bookcase serves as a fridge. And to compensate for the absence of a woman, the pair create a mechanical cleaning lady. But it soon becomes clear that she has no intention of quietly going about her chores. This doll has opinions of her own. Tensions mount, and the room starts getting smaller and smaller. The men’s latest invention may be their downfall.

Lebensraum is inspired by the works of actor and filmmaker from the 1920’s, Buster Keaton. Keaton was a pioneer in the worlds of slapstick and physical comedy. At that time, silent movies like Keaton’s were accompanied by classical piano music. This piece is going to be live accompanied by Ralph Mulder and Leonard Lucieer of the band Alamo Race Track.

 

Press: 

The Guardian [13 jan 2014]

Lebensraum – review ***
Purcell Room, London
Lyn Gardner

There is something disturbing going on in this tale of identity, gender politics and Frankenstein-style experimentation

It is breakfast time for two men – inventors who both live and work in the same shared cramped space. Food and drink are delivered by rigged contraptions and pulleys; the bed doubles as a piano and the bookcase is also a refrigerator. There is a sense of both ingenuity but also of entrapment.

Buster Keaton's 1920 silent movie The Scarecrow, about two farmhands driven apart by a woman, provides the inspiration for this quirky show created by Jakop Ahlbom, which comes with a jaunty and wistful live musical accompaniment from Alamo Race Track. But although it begins in similar fashion, the title – with its sinister Nazi connotations of territorial expansion – suggests that there is something more disturbing going on in this tale of identity, gender politics and Frankenstein-style experimentation.

In their quest to maximise their limited space and save labour, the pair have created a living doll, a female robot with a fixed Stepford Wives smile who will attend to all their needs. Or will she? Male domination shows every sign of being overthrown by female determination. When the men attempt to make her more docile, it has the opposite effect and she unleashes chaos in the small space. That smile begins to appear increasingly creepy and gleeful and the cracks in the two men's relationship begin to gape.

The show begins quite slowly and is a little too self-consciously surreal, but it gains both momentum and physical aplomb, particularly in the breathless final madcap sequences. It's thoughtful and unsettling, too, in the way it undercuts the comedy through image and association. When the white-coated pair attempt to modify the doll, their operation looks like something Josef Mengele might have attempted. The cast are terrific, none more so than Silke Hundertmark who, as the maid, expertly utilises pratfalls to expand the universe and burst through the walls.

 

The Telegraph [13 jan 2014]

Lebensraum, Purcell Room, review
London International Mime Festival's Lebensraum demonstrated how inventive compact living can be

Romantic invention: Lebensraum at the Purcell Room as part of the LIMF 
By Matt Trueman
13 Jan 2014

Ahlbom balances the trio’s relationship beautifully. The gentility with which the men care for their self-made woman is sweetly touching; that they’ve made her at all remains darkly disconcerting. It’s like a Charlie Chaplin skit penned by Harold Pinter. 

It takes a while to warm up, truth be told, and it’s always a smidgen off perfect slickness. But then Lebensraum’s less about wringing slapstick for belly laughs than appreciating its aesthetic and logic — or should that be lunacy? 

There’s a simmering delirium at work, as doors spin on their axes, sofas swallow people whole and walls open up like sinkholes. By the time it reaches full pelt, it’s quite dizzying.

Jakop Ahlbom was born in Sweden in 1971. In the early 1990s he moved to the Netherlands where he studied Mime at the Amsterdam School of the Arts. Upon his graduation in 1998 he was presented with the Top Naeff award for the most promising student. His gift for choreography had been noticed – and so had his poeticism and his ability to get his cast to unleash their energy, bravado and physicality. The award jury described him as an eager, outstanding and exuberant talent. After graduating he worked with a variety of theatre makers as a performer, choreographer and director. In 2000 he started working on his own, idiosyncratic oeuvre.

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