Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Wed Feb 12
Upon entering the theatre, a film reel plays cinematic moments in the history of German actor-icon, Klaus Kinski. The visuals are often odd and seemingly disconnected, much like an element of the persona that is Kinski. Yet as playwright/director/actor CJ Johnson will tell you (and he does) there is a much darker, even sinister side to the man hailed in Germany and around the world as an acting genius.
Johnson reads excerpts from Kinski’s memoirs (the ‘uncut’ and now very rare version) as the man himself. Though he is physically nothing like the actor and sports an at times suspect German accent, Johnson is nevertheless spellbinding in his delivery. He deftly channels Kinski’s energy and ego in the vulgar, cutting diatribes of which Kinski: Uncut is made. The evening is structured around the juiciest excerpts to be found in this text, with Johnson breaking character at specific moments to make comment or offer explanations.
The audience was completely hooked as “Kinski” raged at those surrounding him, most notably long-time friend and director Werner Herzog with whom he made some of his most notable films. These include the iconic Aguirre, The Wrath Of God and Nosferatu The Vampyre – the former film famous as much for reports of Kinski’s vile behavior and Herzog’s threats to shoot him during filming as for the artistic merits the film contained.
Beyond Kinski’s acting prowess and vicious contempt for those around him however, the performance centres mostly on his sexual appetites and addictions, the graphic monologues describing his many conquests making 50 Shades Of Grey seem like a child’s bedtime story. Those stories became an increasingly harrowing experience for the audience as the projected ‘voice’ of daughter Pola Kinski interrupts with her own descriptions (taken from her own 2013 biography, Kindermund) of the many rapes Kinski subjected her to from the age of 5.
Kinski And I has its humorous moments however the paedophilia dominates, creating that eternal (and very current) conflict – is it possible to love the art yet reject the artist? This is a fascinating theatre experience and well worth your Fringe time.
Rosie van Heerde
Kinski And I continues at Holden Street Theatres’ The Studio until Sun Feb 22.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.