It is the evening of the two costume designers, the evening of the live musicians, the evening of the stage designer and the lighting director.

But it is even more the evening of the seven-strong Frankfurt ensemble, which mills its way through one of Jelinek's typical text surfaces for almost two hours, amalgamating the immediate present and mythical past, current events and archetypal elements.

The meanwhile almost classic Jelinek alloy looks like this: everyday garbage that is already in the early stages of decomposition is mixed with jokes, classic quotes, wild associations and punchlines and then hardened with the metal of meter.

What is created in this way is as soft and malleable as bronze, making it easy to work with.

A lot of theater directors love that kind of thing.

Hubert Spiegel

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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"Noise.

Blind seeing.

Blind seeing!

What I wanted to say" is a play about our present of the last two years, namely a play about the pandemic palaver, the anti-vaccination tirades and the conspiracy theories that cut through public space like ricochets, according to which politics, science and above all big money ( Gates, Soros, the Rothschilds) established a dictatorship.

Added to this are the themes of the rise (steep) and fall (suddenly, but softly) of the Austrian populist Sebastian Kurz, as well as drastic, striking references to Westphalian meat torture factories and Alpine meat inspection, groping and consumption establishments in Ischgl.

The author does not walk through this hell like Dante holding Virgil's hand, but has secured the services of a detour and escape specialist:

"A Chamber Play for Seven Pigs"

Karin Beier staged the premiere in Hamburg last summer, followed by Frank Castorf in Vienna.

Now, with a long delay due to the corona situation, Stefan Bachmann, an experienced Jelinek director, has taken on the play at the Frankfurt Schauspiel.

His staging focuses on the text, is taut, consistent, almost strict: a chamber play for seven pigs.

Because Jana Findeklee and Joki Tewes adapted pig masks for the Frankfurt ensemble, put them in pickle-colored body suits, gave them huge ear pads and cute curly tails.

The parts of the animals' bodies are numbered consecutively, as the middle-class consumer who is willing to learn likes it in his enlightened sheepish stupidity.

Right shoulder: ten.

Left shoulder: eleven.

Left knuckle: thirteen.

The rosy number revue grunts, prances and sprawls on the ring-shaped catwalk that Olaf Altmann has placed on the stage.

A second ring of the same size hovers above it.

This place is everywhere and nowhere.

He is the Viennese Ballhausplatz and the meat factory of Rheda-Wiedenbrück, the ship of Odysseus and the island of the sorceress Circe, on which the companions of the cunning are turned into pigs.

Then it's on to the "Kitzloch" in Ischgl.

Because the piglets are actually warriors on the return journey from Troy to Ithaca, they now wear helmets, breastplates and spears.

Something doesn't seem right

When the stage ring then starts to move and the ensemble slowly progresses in the opposite direction of the rotary movement, blasting out the text like archaic rappers in rhythmically well-calculated portions, then one remembers Ulrich Rasche's Frankfurt production of "Sieben gegen Theben" in 2017 and imagines oneself in a parody, while on the right edge of the stage Sven Kaiser sets the pace and mode of presentation with his percussion and keyboard instruments.

In the alternation of choral speech, monologue, dialogue and short vocal interludes, the evening has something incredibly musical.

But how musical is Jelinek's text itself?

There seem to be doubts.

Something is wrong with this staging.

It is well thought out, closed, consistent.

Beautifully surreal images are created.

The ensemble - Heidi Ecks, Christina Geiße, Agnes Kammerer, André Meyer, Heiko Raulin and Susanne-Marie Wrage - is fabulous, the change from choral scenes to solo passages is smooth.

But something is wrong.

The audience follows what is happening in a concentrated, respectful manner, but also seems a bit embarrassed.

Maybe it's simply impossible to follow Jelinek's wild association leaps for two hours, maybe the dominating frontal speech also contributes to the impression that these little pigs are walking on a leash that's too short.

It is probably less the director's leash that is a hindrance here, but the author's leash.

There is basically no plot, characters or dialogue.

The dominant principle of the text is the wall show: something that cannot be seen on stage is described by the actors.

The director has a choice: if he does show it, the text is superfluous; if he doesn't show it, there is a risk of the text being recited statically on the ramp.

Only in the fourth and last part of the evening does the knot burst.

Elfriede Jelinek formulated a coda for Frankfurt and thus saved the premiere label: "What I wanted to say" reacts to the resignation of Sebastian Kurz and plays with the prospect of a comeback.

Because as long as there is a people, a populist will not give up.

Why should he?

Now the seven pigs are wearing Bermuda shorts in party colors, knee-high socks and nice tank tops: junior politicians in turquoise.

Full of lust they rap and dance the apotheosis of an egomaniacal manipulator.

The pigs are finally on their own.

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