Already in April, at the wedding of the first lockdown, the theater collective Nesterval surprised with “The Kreisky-Test” with a refreshing online theater event, which was finally awarded the jury’s special Corona Prize as part of the “Nestroy” award ceremony. Yesterday, Wednesday, evening the sequel premiered, which was actually planned offline in the Generali-Arena. However, the current zoom piece suffers a little from the dimensions.
While the brut Wien audience was divided into changing small groups in the spring and channeled through numerous “breakout rooms” where there was an intimate exchange with the performers, this time the focus is on larger, constant groups that largely function as observers of the process, which in “Goodbye Kreisky” should lead to a decisive decision. The game is played on the spacious football field, in stairwells and small rooms, and via black and white surveillance camera you can see the actors moving in the corridors.
Even the entrance to the Zoom session is reminiscent of the complicated corona measures that could be experienced in this short theatrical autumn. Since every visitor is asked for their real name in order to assign them to the purchased ticket, there is a waiting time of around 20 minutes right at the beginning, which ultimately increases the theater experience to more than two hours. After a day that you may have already spent mainly on video platforms, a somewhat sobering procedure.
When it finally starts, you will immediately get rid of your previously disclosed identity. The moderator from the “analysis team” gives the “commission members” their own abbreviations (a la “K_027”): “This is for your anonymity and security,” they say. Finally, the group now proceeds to observe the “last remaining Social Democrats” who have been hiding in a bunker under Karlsplatz for the past 50 years and are now under observation in the Generali Arena after their discovery. They are a group around Kreisky’s confidante Gertrud Nesterval, whose disappearance was the subject of Part 1. The “Nesterval Fund”, which has now become established, is – at least supposedly – committed to protecting the “Bedroten” (sic!).
These 14 people have significant difficulties adapting to the new political conditions of our society and for the most part want nothing more than to be able to return to their bunker. The audience can decide which protagonist they want to follow and thus gain an insight into the worlds of thought of the families white, gray, red and black. There is hardly any real interaction like in the last episode. Instead of exchanging ideas with the members, you remain a silent observer. On the one hand, this is a clear commitment from Nesterval not to simply repeat itself, but it takes away from the format that immersive kick that was so exciting back then.
Instead, you get to know the “Bedrote” better and better, step by step, but you also get an insight into the real plans of the Nesterval Fund around Gertrud’s son Jonas Nesterval (Christopher Wurmdobler). When a landmark decision is finally to be made, the commission (i.e. the public) is actually asked to get involved. In the audience discussion it soon becomes clear that the situation is not as clear as one might have thought at the beginning …
And so “Goodbye Kreisky” only gains momentum after the break, which is due to the dimensions of the project. The many different places, the vastness of the soccer field, the abundance of explanations for all those who have not seen Part 1, slow things down a lot at the beginning. The less pointed, somewhat aimlessly meandering dialogues and rampant choreographies also contribute to this feeling. Nonetheless, Nesterval succeeded in an interesting experiment again this time, which puts the audience’s judgment to the test. In addition to the numerous tips against the current state of social democracy, there is also an amusing current subordinate clause. When it comes to why films and theater were banned in the bunker, it says: “Gertrud was of the opinion that art is not systemically relevant, that’s why she didn’t want that. You can make art when the work is over.”
And so the almost two and a half hour Zoom theater evening ends a little differently for each group of visitors. You definitely want to be there a second time. At least after the break, when it comes to the nitty-gritty.
(SERVICE – “Goodbye Kreisky. Welcome to the underground” by Nesterval, brut Wien, online via Zoom. Director: Mr. Finland, script: Mrs. Löfberg. With Aston Matters, Christopher Wurmdobler, Claudia Six, Johannes Scheutz and Romy Hrubes, among others. Further dates on November 27th, 28th and 29th as well as December 3rd to 6th and 10th to 12th. Information at)