The Jhiva of Nietzsche

A synthesis of drama, dance, and multimedia, this performance traces the life of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche through the eyes of his Jhiva (soul). Such an esoteric premise was always going to be challenging; ultimately, I don’t believe this production is as clever as it thinks it is, or as engaging as it could be. If fact, there were frequent moments when I found it nonsensical and incoherent, while at others it was simply boring.

While claiming to portray the life of Nietzsche, frankly the performance could be tracing the life of anyone. Apart from the occasional and often only tenuously relevant Nietzschean quote appearing on the background screen, the life and works of this philosopher were not profoundly engaged with. The Jhiva, or soul, experiences the turbulence of knowledge, sex, madness, and eventually suicide, but of course none of these things are the exclusive preserve of Nietzsche.

The nature of this ‘Jhiva’ was the most baffling part of the production. The soul is inaugurated in the womb and seems to be set in opposition to, as well as dependence on, the ‘mind’. The soul is instructed to ‘submit yourself to the universal law of karma’ and yet the procedure of the soul’s installation is presided over by some inexplicable, overarching, computerised voice issuing such instructions as ‘please initiate ultra-modern mind number NICH1844. Mind formation complete.’ Like a deity from Doctor Who. I’m not entirely sure what religious or philosophical traditions are being drawn upon here: a medley of Platonism, Hinduism, and Scientology maybe. The set, costume choices, and the performer’s chosen accent also seem inexplicable and disjointed.

In short this is an experimental production that at times was visually impressive and engaging, but ultimately seems not to know what it is. Or why it is here.

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The Blurb

Combining live action and multimedia, the performance traces the life of philosopher Frederic Nietzsche through the eyes of his Jhiva (soul). Reason and intuition collide in an in-body divide between mind (digital character) and soul. www.theatrotranscendental.com.

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