Imagine a world two generations ago in the 1970s when the first wave of non-white immigrants struggled to carve out an existence in post-cold war Germany.
FEAR EATS THE SOUL examines a very personal story of an unlikely couple’s struggle to survive and find love in Germany. Helen Hayes Award winning actress Nanna Ingvarsson capture the angst and essence of Emmi, the aging Polish widow who unexpectantly finds love and desperately clings to her young husband despite being despised by her fellow Deutschland friends and family.
Add the smoldering on-stage chemistry that veteran Oscar Ceville brings to the stage as Salem, the hard working auto mechanic from North Africa and the dozens of dizzying roles that Scena’s ensemble cast delivers and the pressure cooking clash of cultures quickly boils over.
Director Robert McNamara directs Scena’s climactic performance of their 30th Anniversary Season by bringing the smoldering chemistry of award winning Nanna Ingvarsson as the matronly cleaning woman Emmi crosses paths with Oscar Ceville as the hard working auto mechanic Salem who passes his time gambling and drinking in a working class bar.
Salem is intrigued by Emmi’s guarded aura as she stumbles into his favorite bar to avoid a downpour, and Salem breaks the ice while ‘Dark Gypsy’ plays in the background, and the swarthy Moor catches her off guard by asking her to, “Dance with me”!
For the next 90 minutes the ensemble cast of a dozen polished performers transforms the black box ATLAS THEATER into a revolving musical chair matrix of German industrial style building blocks of fast paced short acts that follow the desperate couple’s struggle against rigid social norms, and the biased judgement of family, co-workers and merchants who distain and don’t understand their unconventional relationship.
Of particular note is sultry Karin Rosnizeck as Frau Kargas the bar owner and Salem’s side chick when he tires of domestic life with Emmi. She adds a white hot performance as a black laced dominatrix ready for a quick dark chocolate fix, and compliments the blond Arian tribe of bar flies and stoic working class Frauleins who try to make Emmi’s life miserable.
Not to be outdone by the vixens is Colin Davies as Herr Gruber the soup Nazi-style grocer who refuses to serve Salem, and Rashard Harrison as the auto shop foreman who mercilessly mocks and shames Salem when Emmi shows up at work after he disappears for a few nights of carousing and gambling.
FEAR EATS THE SOUL is a stage play adopted from a 1974 original cult film that won 2 Cannes festival awards that was created by eccentric German actor, screen writer and Avant guard filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder who lived hard and died young at 37 in 1982 of a lethal drug overdose. This emotionally powerful drama centers on timely topics such as race, immigration and class.
Robert McNamara and SCENA have a long history of producing Fassbinder’s socially provocative works. In 2013, Nanna Ingvarsson also starred to great acclaim. In SCENA’s production of Fassbinder’s WWII drama The Marriage of Maria Braun.
SCENA Theatre brings the best international theatre to Washington, DC and stimulates cultural exchange between theatre artists, locally and worldwide. Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert McNamara and Managing Director Amy Schmidt.
So step out of your comfort zone and help SCENA celebrates its 30th year with the U. S. premiere of ‘Fear Eats The Soul’, that runs through June 4th at The Atlas. It is a meal for the mind best served cold with a stein of German lager which you can find up the street on “H” at the Queen Vic where you can wash down the lasting impressions of this timely Euro tale of immigrant conflict.