Four women are in the queue for Europe. They come from Kiev, Kharkiv, Bucha and Chernihiv, they want to escape the war. Now they’re leaning against a concrete wall that surrounds the Therese-Giehse-Halle Munich Chamber Games greatly reduced, the action moves closer to the spectators. They want to get out of Ukraine while the wild geese fly back there from warmer countries. A goose shits on their heads. You don’t see that, they just say that.
Natalia Vorozhbyt, born in Kiev in 1975, is currently the in-house author at the Kammerspiele, has written her play “Green Corridors” for the house and in dialogue with the theatre written, an exuberant, bizarre, painful, sarcastic and also heartbreaking topography of the war. Not the battles, but what war does to people. Vorozhbyt slammed into the Central European theatrical landscape when her Piece “Bad Roads” 2022 at the “Radikal Jung” festival in the Munich Volkstheater was seen in a production from Kiev. It had previously been shown in the West, and Vorozhbyt’s own film adaptation of the material, which she had researched and experienced herself on trips to the Donbass, had been shown in Venice. All without much repercussion. You didn’t want to believe it. But now it’s war, and what “Bad Roads” ironically describes of the devastation inside people becomes even crazier in “Green Corridors”. Vorozhbyt is gifted with an abysmal dark sense of humour. Your play is fabulous. The staging by Jan-Christoph Gockel is too.
Four women. One, Svetlana Belesova, was born in the Crimea, has lived in Germany since 2007, has been in the Kammerspiele ensemble for a long time and plays an actress here. Tanya Kargaeva, Maryna Klimova, Julia Slepneva come more or less directly from the Ukraine, are actresses. Here you play a nail designer from Bucha, a housewife with three children, a cat lover with a Soviet mentality. Their characters have no names, they stand for many with their fates: the nail designer was raped, the cat woman is crazy, the mother tried a sex chat with her husband when a bomb hit. The man is dead, the house destroyed.
Now they are in the “Green Corridor”, the escape route for civilian victims, and the illustrator Sofiia Melnyk introduces them and writes information about their biographies on the wall. During the performance, Melnyk draws what is projected onto the wall, the white shadows of the fleeing animals, people. In addition, Anton Berman (he also plays a border guard) makes music, sometimes too much, he controls the emotions that are there anyway.
Jan-Christoph Gockel is rarely squeamish when it comes to choosing the means, here his exuberant approach fits perfectly. Because otherwise one would hardly be able to master this play, the content of which can only be reproduced here in fragments. In addition to the stories of the fleeing women, there are numerous other characters, such as a film director, played by the wonderfully exhilarated André Benndorff, who, as a Ukrainian with a Canadian passport, also collects dogs in the war zone, purebred spitz, to sell them in the West. As a director he shoots historical scenes with Belesova about the poetess Olena Telina, who was murdered by the Nazis in Babyn Yar, about the Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who wanted an independent Ukraine with the help of the Nazis and was murdered in Munich in 1959, about the composer Mykola Leontovych, who was too popular with the Soviets – they killed him in 1921. Three people who, in completely different ways, stand for the attempt at an independent, self-confident Ukraine. The shooting scenes are crazy, fast-paced, like everything here, biographies intertwine, the actress is regularly recognized as one who played in Russian series, and is then killed by the other women. Also because their cosmopolitan behavior is annoying.
Belesova is fabulous, her three colleagues from Ukraine are fabulous. First they speak mainly Ukrainian (with surtitles), then more and more German, they arrive at the vanishing point. Where Johanna Eiworth lurks for you, as a do-gooder European of all kinds, always hysterical, always loud – the Ukrainians outplay them.
At one point, all funds fail – and you hear the story of a rape
Then all funds are suspended. Tanya Kargaeva tells what happened to the nail designer. Tells how she was raped for days. “You don’t want to hear the details now… do you?” You can hear them. The soldiers fled Bucha, locked her up beforehand, and set fire to the mattress. It was too wet to burn. Then Kargaeva nudges the wall with a finger, it falls over without a sound, only with a gust of wind. She bows.
The hope at the end fits the bizarre humor. Belesova emerges as Milla Jovovich from the film “The Fifth Element,” futuristic weapons in hand, ready for the “Big Badaboom.” And the women jump out to the side, into the light, into freedom.
“Green Corridors” is the highlight of the rather incoherently programmed “Female Peace Palace” festival at the Kammerspiele. Before the premiere, “in my hand I carry” can be seen in the foyer of the theater, a “performative intervention” in which six black women walk. Without saying anything. Said to have something to do with African-American civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell, who attended women’s conferences for peace in the early 20th century. But it doesn’t go beyond the mere presence of the six women. What a blessing, on the other hand, the content and aesthetic power of “Green Corridors” – a success that is good for the Kammerspiele in the current crisis situation.