City Theatre Brno - Mestske Divadlo Brno (Czech Republic)
Book and Music by Jonathan Larson
Director: Stanislav Moša
RENT in Brno – here and now!
...Now for the actual staging. I will start with what the audience perceives first – the stage set. RENT is not a big set piece where high demands are placed on the stage. The setting is supposed to appear rather simple, poor, minimalist, but this is also taken too literally in some productions. Christoph Weyers is not guilty of doing that. His set is “richer” in every respect, while fulfilling all of the aforementioned requirements wonderfully.
At the Brno stage, the main part is very thoroughly designed with an upper floor, spiral staircase and lattice. The basis of the set is a self-contained two-storey backdrop at the rear of the stage, which suggests the main protagonist’s flat with the basic motif of a brick wall, which also continues along the sides of the stage. The scene also includes, for example, a large window through which the attentive viewer can see the façade of the neighbouring typical New York tenement block, an oven that really “burns” during the performance, and the indispensable telephones. Everything perfectly illustrates a run-down New York city flat in the nineties. (The spaciousness of the flat, the brick walls and the metal pillar are also reminiscent of a film set) One thing that I was particularly pleased with was the fact that the flat was decorated in the form of a painting with Keith Haring’s typical figures. The upper floor is mainly used in the scene “Out Tonight”, where the barred room comes into play during Mimi’s performance. The band sits in the second part of the upper floor, which becomes a visible part of the production without their presence on stage being in any way disruptive. The two floors are connected by a spiral staircase. This backdrop remains unchanged for the entire duration of the performance. That means changes of location are only indicated by a change in the arrangement of tables, chairs and other props. Thanks to the brick wall motif, the side walls of the stage illustrate not only the main protagonist’s flat, but also the exterior facades of New York apartment blocks, making them equally suitable for scenes that take place outdoors. This eliminates a traditional flaw in the productions due to long rebuilds and blackouts....
Lukáš Helcelet, Musical.cz, 18.11.2018
RENT tells the story of friendship
...The stage design by Christoph Weyers with weathered brickwork evokes the inhospitable milieu of a flat in a poor district, but can just as easily be transformed into a modern dance club. The presence of the six-piece band is perfectly solved and creates an effective element by placing it directly in the background of the stage.
Lenka Kolegarová, Brněnský deník, 13.11.2018
RENT in Brno means passionate music theatre
... The sound of the premiere complements the attractive dimension of the musical set. Set designer Christoph Weyers placed a catwalk at the top of the two-storey stage, and thanks to the decaying brick portals, in places the audience gets the impression of that uncomfortable, frosty attic from Puccini’s original. Larson borrowed not only a few names from the famous opera, but above all the bleak life stories of young people in their time, where the protagonists have to struggle ceaselessly for their position in the professional world, their health, their existence, and even their relationships. Weyers has succeeded in visually extracting this almost neurasthenic feeling from the plot. This is supported by the convincing and individual performances of the actors on stage. The Brno City Theatre thus has a strong musical piece that will especially appeal to young people, while it is likely to disgruntle those adults with more closed minds. Both are a good thing..
Luboš Mareček, , www.mestohudby.cz, 06.11.2018
RENT is a rock opera about Bohemia
...Set designer Christoph Weyers successfully placed the small orchestra in the upper right square in the background of the scene, where only the outlines of the musicians can be seen in a very effective way. Raw brick walls and the whole interior are impressively reminiscent of the run-down buildings of the 90s in New York....
Jan Tojan www.brnozurnal.cz, 21.11.2018