FRINGE 2015: Kinski and I – The Studio, Holden Street Theatres – 3K

Kinski and I, is an interesting experience. It explores the life of German actor Klaus Kinski, through readings from the original (since banned) text of his autobiography and small snippets of other information provided by presenter C J Johnson. Less like a traditional theatre production and more like a documentary – biographical dialogue accompanied by edited clips from Kinski’s films – the biggest question seems to be: why has Johnson not learnt the text off by heart? Instead he reads it from a tablet and, while he has a strong and pleasant voice, with good articulation and expression (though the German accent he uses is uneven and frequently lapses), it is never more than words coming from a page.

The subject matter is volatile and likely to be offensive or disturbing for many. It is highly relevant, with many modern parallels to be drawn between current discussions and controversies surrounding several artists, and Kinski – his art, his actions, his attitudes and how they all relate to one another. It is certainly a show that will lead to much discussion and debate.

One assumes there must be more in the book than reminiscences of sexual encounters, but this show focuses firmly on this area of Kinski’s life, with occasional thoughts regarding acting, and accounts of Kinski’s work with renowned director Werner Herzog. One quote that is selected speaks of the performer submitting to the role, letting it take them over. Has Johnson opted to read the text rather than embody it because he is afraid of the role taking him over, afraid of submitting to the character? As an audience member this choice is disappointing. That’s what theatre is about, encountering characters that both intrigue and horrify you, getting to have a glimpse of those personalities, to experience them and their way of viewing the world. The experience just isn’t as powerful when the character is at arm’s length, as it is here.

Kryztoff Rating: 3K

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