Johannes Dullin @ Heroes, Dragonfly
An uncomfortable hour spent in Johannes Dullin's company
Johannes Dullin is undoubtedly one of the more trying character acts to share a room with. In theory, an intense German whose mental stability is in question isn’t someone many people would want to share close quarters with, and unfortunately this is also true in practice. Johannes Dullin Plays the Devil is a show that invades our space without asking if it should. It is by no means a show devoid of humour, self awareness or frantically funny moments. It is, however, unpleasant and confrontational in a way that ultimately detracts from our enjoyment.
Dullin is a grotesque character on stage, whose mental state deteriorates throughout the show, until we are left in the company of an almost psychotic individual. Stories about growing up with his family and school chums dissolve into nightmarish scenarios. A fixation on his Aunt and ritual humiliations give us a firm understanding of the character’s unpredictable mindset.
Dullin is a Marmite act that could work completely differently in a room with a less intimate audience. In this incarnation, the audience seem alienated from both character and performer. Manipulation is part of Dullin's talent, which makes it harder to pinpoint why this performance is so jarring. What we are presented with is a fully realised vision – it is never a question of commitment or talent. Instead, the problem is that this audience feel more uncomfortable than entertained. After watching the slow disintegration of Dullin, this evening’s audience is ready for fresh air.
Johannes Dullin Plays the Devil, Heroes @ Dragonfly, until 25 Aug, 7.20pm, £5/PWYW