Yesterday I went to see Claron McFadden perform her musical theater piece Lilith. It was shown in the Grand Theatre, which was fun as I had never been there. I had to work before hand, but had some time in between work and the show since it didn’t start until 20:30. So, I met up with Gert and we had dinner at Pappa Joe’s after which we walked in the direction of the theater before going our separate ways.
The Grand Theatre is smaller than I imagined it would be, and also in a shabbier state. It does have a nice atmosphere, though.
The show itself is a two player piece done by McFadden (in the flesh) and Jeroen Willems (on projected video) about the biblical Lilith. In Jewish folklore, she became the first wife of Adam, created at the same time as him, who later left him (as she would not be submissive to him) for the archangel Samael.
In the piece, we meet Lilith in a mostly modern-day setting. She and Adam have separated long ago and she tells us, in speech and in song, of her life both back then, with Adam, and her life after. This is interspersed with Adam, shown on a screen, in a talking-head interview style, who also speaks of Lilith and their life back then, and his current life with Eve and the kids.
Adam seems to have never quite gotten over Lilith, but also cannot live with her free spirit. Lilith struggles. She loved Adam, but she is a free spirit, her own woman, equal to him. As they both speak, and sing, we get occasional flashbacks where the projection changes to a top down view of a bed with Adam in it. McFadden then stands in front of the screen to play her part as if in bed with him while they talk, and argue.
As time went on, and Adam started being weirded out by her passion for life in all its facets and her willingness to embrace it. He becomes more restrictive, and wants her to obey and submit to him, culminating in an incredibly powerful rape scene performed by McFadden in front of the screen.
After this, Lilith left Adam, and ended up with Samael. But over the years, this has not made her happier. The same goes for Adam, he married Eve, had children, but he misses the life that Lilith brought. In the end, both can’t live with, or without each other.
I really enjoyed the show, it was something I hadn’t seen before. I chose the piece because I was intrigued by its description, not only of the story, but also of the fact that Willems’ part was on screen only. I also read he died shortly after the show premiered a few years ago, so I thought that might be the reason, but it was really done because it fits the piece much better. It leaves the focus solely on Lilith, which she deserves.
I am impressed McFadden is able to play with a video projection so well, even though she’s had years of practice with it by now. It must be tough, playing with someone you know isn’t there anymore.
The music wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I had read up on McFadden and knew she was a trained soprano, so I was expecting more classic like music. Instead it is much jazzier and much more down to earth. It takes some getting used to in the beginning, but then you realise it fits the story perfectly.