Solo full-mask show "The Heist" 

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Credits for all pictures: Saska A. Mutic

"The Heist" is an experimental solo full-mask show, written and directed by Lee Delong, performed by Ralf Wetzel and completed with the allround musician Monique Laleeuwe.

 

It is a critical commentary on individual despair during mass disruptions under exploitative, capitalist conditions. The piece explores the human condition when confronted with tragic world events, which drastically alter lives, using comedy as a filter.  

 

The story steps into the mundane life of successful restaurant owner and chef, Steve, who is suddenly thrown into the maelstrom of a global pandemic. Without warning or reason, he is exposed to massive shocks in his life, bringing him to the brink of bare survival. As he is forced into new occupations and rather risky professions, he is confronted with sheer desperation after repetitive failure. Like the biblical Hiob, he seeks to understand the reason for his fate and without finding answers, he desperately attempts to escape it. He encounters the hopelessness of the human struggle for survival, but through an ironic twist, finds his way back to what he truly loves.

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Steve, a bistro chef, discovering disturbing news ...

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... with a new owner taking over ...

The deliberate choice of full masks elevates the complexity of the play on several levels: First of all, it instigates a deep reflection about the mundane use of masks in our daily lives, and about what we're veiling and unveiling with them simultaneously, whether the masks be visible or invisible. Secondly, it investigates how a specific type of mask – like the one we are currently forced to wear - acutely alters our play with those mundane masks. These ‘masks-on-top-of-masks’ quickly squelch the illusion of control we claim to have when deliberately building and changing our routine masks throughout our lives. Finally, the physical nature of full mask work provides a rich playground for the exploration of the resulting emotional despair, which is by definition beyond words. As there are very few solo full-mask presentations, this is clearly experimental theater, explored with high physical intensity, unique poignancy, and innovative soundscape. 

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... forcing Steve to go unusual ways ...

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... which do not go unnoticed ...

Lee Delong masterfully dissects the human struggle for survival and it’s inherent meaninglessness in an alluring, charming way. She contrasts the wordless sufferings of a masked life with a heightened sense of comedy. She puts Wetzel through all his moves and explores the play’s multiple characters, using Tex Avery’s comic figures as inspiration. Wetzel jumps, rolls, tippy-toes, explodes, collapses, dreams, and agonizes in rapid-fire succession with enormous skill. The musical underscoring and sound effects which Lee scored accompany Wetzel’s physical work. The resulting music, provided by the adept Monique Laleeuwe, colors the emotional rollercoaster of Steve. A general light, comedic style allows the melodrama of the story to surface. This rare ensemble of elements renders the piece a timely dark comedy, uniquely and tenderly delivered.