Now, my knowledge of philosophy is not great. In fact, it’s poor. We never studied it at school and a brief furor into cultural studies at university doesn’t count. This aside, even I know that Nietzsche is a big name in philosophy, and is known for extremely deep and meaningful, often terribly pessimistic work that has had a profound effect upon modern philosophical thought. This hour-long dive into the man behind the work, particularly with reference to his relationship with Lou Salomé, is fast-paced and at times quite interesting, but ultimately feels rather alienating and extremely wordy – a little like the man himself.
‘You’re talking in riddles’, Lou says to Fritz as he attempts to declare his love for her. It is fitting that the format of the show – a mixture of poetry, scripted duologues, monologues, and audience address – feels similarly confused. The set is littered with various bits of paper that are both referred to as various bits of Nietzschean paraphernalia (no doubt a reference to the letters and such that the programme details as the inspiration for the piece) and also as locating devices. There are some very nifty scene changes in one slight change of a peg – in fact, the scene changes were so fast it was sometimes difficult to keep track.
As Fritz, Jamie Laird dazzles, simultaneously evoking pathos and disgust for his mental struggle and short-sighted misogynism respectively. The lighting design was efficient, if not a little distracting, but all in all the hour flies by much quicker than you expect. One of the play’s main issues was that the wordy script appeared to have been written from scratch by the director, a process that did not seem in keeping with the devising/collaborative ethic that was detailed in the programme and that, consequently, had a noticeably negative impact on the feel of the production.