As part of its 30th anniversary season, Scena Theatre has offered a stage adaptation of late German film auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 film Fear Eats the Soul, translated and adapted by Anthony Vivis, about the love and marriage of a Moroccan immigrant and a German woman. Director, and Scena Theatre’s Artistic Director, Robert McNamara has directed real and relatable performances in this entertaining stage adaptation. Fear Eats the Soul is provocative, stunning theater at its best.
The show is timely in its theme of immigration assimilation and timeless in its theme of cross generational love. In a world in which Syrian refugees risk death fleeing into Europe, and the merit of Presidential executive orders restricting immigration into the U.S. are debated, Fear Eats the Soul is much more than the story of a 60-plus-year-old woman marrying a man well over 20 years her junior.
When Emmi meets Salem, their pairing, in 70s Germany, seems unlikely and odd. Nanna Ingvarsson, a 30-year veteran of Scena, brought a full bouquet of attitudes and moods to her character, Emmi. Oscar Ceville was top-notch as Salem aka Ali, Emmi’s younger lover, who was a somber-acting, somewhat lost individual. As Salem struggled to find his footing in a strange land (where guest worker immigrants were known to live six men to a room), the attitude he was subjected to was “German master, Arab dog.” Together, Ingvarsson’s and Ceville’s scenes were ripe with a bonded chemistry.
Anti-immigrant guest worker sentiment was high throughout the play, the attitude being: “All they think about is women.” Emmi’s children, Krista and Bruno, didn’t take their mother’s choice of a partner well: Jen Bevan and Ivan Zizek, as Krista and Bruno respectively, brought an emotional depth to their characters. The delightful and always entertaining Colin Davies (seen last year in Scena’s Antigone Now) was brilliant as…