Wings of Desire @ the A.R.T

I haven’t written about it, because it unfortunately did sort of did live down to expectations.

As mentioned in the comments of an earlier post, a lot of the film’s success rides on it being a film, and it just didn’t translate well to the stage.

There were some nice touches:

  • Local NPR host Robin Young was featured actually reading the day’s news. (Nevermind that they played the intro to some other newscast, and the fact that hers is not actually a news show). It was also thematically serendipitous that her show is called “Here and Now”. It was a nice touch, but still not sufficient give a real sense of place, not the film was so rooted in Berlin.
  • Right from the beginning, these giant, thin, underlit streams of falling sand fell from above the stage onto the floor (specifically onto some kind of lighting unit), all the way through more or less the whole show. At first, I couldn’t tell what it was, but it looked like clouds flying past from an airplane window (if your airplane were going straight up, or if you were, say, an angel). And then, of course, they started to look like big hourglasses as the sand piled up. Clever.

I’ll not rant about every little thing, so here are my biggest gripes. The angels seemed very earthbound, and were upstaged by the actual trapeze artist. They were also much more buttoned down than Bruno Ganz in the film (whose look I have come to realize is a rip-off of Cary Grant’s look in The Bishop’s Wife, which I had not seen when I first saw Wings of Desire). Their seeming a little too uptight and cold and removed is actually somewhat necessary for the story to work. The actor who played Damiel in particular was way too laid back and physical from the start. The actor who played Cassiel, on the other hand, though scruffy, was actually quite good. He watched the mortals in a way that you could really see that he was watching them, and brooding; that’s hard to do on stage, because it can’t really be done with words or large gestures.

It wasn’t time wasted, but it probably would have been better to just rent the film again. (Have I mentioned how much I love the film? Go see it if you haven’t).

3 thoughts on “Wings of Desire @ the A.R.T”

  1. An actor is in town, but instead of working on a film, he is in a play. And hey, it’s actually the play you’re watching now! And hey, he’s addressing you directly. And he needs to be fitted for an old-fashioned hat, even though he seems to be playing a homeless Vietnam vet of the “truth comes from the mouths of homeless Vietnam vets” variety (if a film of the play were to be made, he’d be played by Robin Williams or Joe Pesci).

    And you’re not really surprised when he can sense the angels, or rather, you are only surprised that anyone on stage can see anyone else on stage, because most of the time even all the mortals just wander around, apparently unable to see or interact with each other, and deliver monologues.

  2. I thought the actor who played Cassiel was very good–his might have been the best performance. His real compassion was heartbreaking, and 95% of it came through his face and gestures. The actor playing Damiel was a bit of a disappointment, though. Damiel’s part is so important, and I didn’t feel like he established himself enough as an angel to make his shift convincing, or even interesting. Their efforts to set the whole thing in Boston were commendable, and some of the people roaming what I guess was supposed to be a Boston park were pretty good. The music, while sometimes interesting, was totally overdone.

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