Auf und Davon, a little German phrase that captures so much. It variously means to elope or a bird that starts to fly and is suddenly gone. But the most relevant definition here is to start something and to go away, which pretty much sums up the lives of our two protagonists in Peter Yeldham’s comedy. Two fun loving, but conniving English women, Elizabeth (Birthe Wolter) and Josephine (Isabella Schmid) hop around the world, switching roles between heiress and her secretary, living in hotels and scamming rich gentleman out of their money. Until one day, they scam a New York banker, Charlie (Christopher Krieg), who might not be as scammable as they first imagined. We follow the ups and downs in their schemes and relationships to see how a man and two women can work together, love together, and get rich quick together.
The play opens on a beautifully decorated hotel room with location appropriate music blaring in the background. The set design here is wonderful, capturing a stylish upscale hotel suite, the repetition of the same hotel room in every country almost mimicking the idea of the girls pulling the same scam on similarly duped men. The music and a window with changing landmarks are the clues to what city we are currently scheming in – a fact that I caught on to way too slowly due to my seat far to the right. Beyond the aesthetic, we get a delightfully light and funny comedy with all the actors contributing to the mood. Schmid especially captures a physical humor which translates across language barriers. When Charlie, Jo, and Elizabeth verbally banter or pratfall or shove wads of cash in their bras, their comedic chemistry is on point. However, the play occasionally has the problem of being over-choreographed. Charlie sneaking into the hotel room or the girls synchronically packing and celebrating a score come across as forced and miss the mark. Luckily, this only happens a few times and the actors are usually able to rely on their own comedic timing and chemistry rather than overly scripted routines.
The same issue occurs with the room service duo, played by Anna Kretschmer and Tino Leo. They are charming in little moments or with the range of personalities and nationalities they must don, but their interim routines are peppered with too large winks at the audience. There is also a slight racial insensitivity to their new nationalities, which is probably a German vs. American cultural difference, as the German audience ate up their imitation of a high energy, music loving Japanese duo.
Auf und Davon recalls classic comedies from the days of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon or in the vein of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It’s the love story and the strength of the women’s relationship which gives the play a nice modern twist. The romantic chemistry is lacking in the first act, making the sudden turn to a love triangle seem a little jarring and a little insulting that these two strong women would suddenly start falling over themselves for this man. However, in the second act the trio recovers and a believable, if primarily comedic, chemistry is born. And it goes to show, that if there is one universal language, it’s love and money.
Auf und Davon ist eine Kömodie von Peter Yeldham über die beiden attraktiven Engländerinnen Josephine und Elizabeth, die um den Globus reisen um reiche, vertrauensvolle Männer um ihr Vermögen zu erleichtern. Alles ändert sich als mit einem ihrer Opfer, einem New Yorker Banker namens Charlie, nicht alles ganz nach Plan läuft.
- By Peter Yeldham
- Translated from English by Nina Adler and Ursula Lyn
- Director: Pia Hänggi
- Cast includes: Birthe Wolter, Isabella Schmid, Christopher Krieg, Anna Kretschmer, Tino Leo, and Bernd E. Jäger Van Boxen
- Die Kömodie, Frankfurt
- Until 15 January 2017
- Review by Becca Kaplan
- 1 December 2016