Mit Dolores habt ihr nicht gerechnet (You Didn’t Expect Dolores) is anything but a feel-good play at the Gorki in Berlin. The issues are pretty intense.
It is about Dolores and Ida. Actually, Dolores was born a boy. The sisters grow up in Galicia at the beginning of the last century and, after dancing careers, become victims of the Holocaust. It tells of the Jewish partisans during and after the Second World War, but mostly it is about Dolores. In World War II Berlin, she takes revenge on German holders of power and civilians for the crimes committed against Jews and homosexuals.
The production does not ask whether the Jewish woman’s revenge on the Nazis – in this performance German Nazis – is moral and serves its purpose: that is simply taken as fact.
Surely there are people who at every new production, every new film or book, ask why we need different second hand interpretations of the Holocaust, when we already have the work of Primo Levi and Paul Celan. Doesn’t every additional work lead us away from the truth and the facts? I think so, too. On the other hand, different social groups need to be reached in the treatment of the Holocaust. And maybe this play will reach a younger audience, thereby fulfilling its purpose.
We hear the story told in the words of various narrators. As a result, even the acts of revenge carried out by Dolores reach the audience as if through a mute – we do not see anyone being killed. Maybe that’s necessary in order to not shock the audience too much.
In places where I would have liked the plot to be played out, choreography is used. But since the sisters are portrayed as famous dancers in the production, I would have liked to see them in motion. The huge masks turned them into puppets, but even a puppet can dance.
Ted Gaier’s band – Gaier is known from his Hamburg group Golden Lemons – plays slightly folk-tinged rock. In places, it reminded me of the melancholy tangos known from Aki Kaurismäki’s films. The music was extremely pleasant, animated the action on stage and helped hold together the rather lengthy, two-hour performance.
Dolores is a character who connects generations, not so much with revenge, but with constant struggle. Her struggle, both as a queer and as a Jew, is not over yet. On stage there is a race against time. But as the performers say, the eighth of May 1945 is just one point on the timeline, not the finish line. That means, unfortunately, the story goes on. And that is exactly what this interesting play tells us even if it leaves many questions unanswered.