Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Caucasian male, height - 5'10" to 6"; weight - in proportion with height, keeping himself fairly trim; age - about 40; hair -brown; distinguishing marks - appendectomy scar; beautiful hands with long fingers. (For non-Americans, a 'caucasian' is a white person; nothing to do with the Caucasus).

This is Šarūnas Puidokas who I did not expect to see when I booked my ticket for 'Kontrabosas' (Double bass), the play by Patrick Suskind. It's a play I had wanted to see for a long time, but never was in Vilnius at the right time. Actually I expected to see a different actor, so I was tiny bit miffed. But never mind.

'Double Bass' is a monologue lasting just over an hour. It features an actor, and, surprise surprise, a double bass. On a fairly bare stage. My heart sank a little at the sight of this. Having been to theatres in Georgia with my 10 words of Georgian I feel that I now have an obligation to go to Lithuanian theatres, too, with my maybe 500 - 1000 words of Lithuanian. Whereas in Georgia I just let the words wash over me, in Lithuania I feel I should make an effort and try to understand. In any case, it's difficult to do anything else in a monologue.

The instrument confused me. The strings, at the end of the fingerboard, were about 4 inches above the fingerboard. How can you play that? What was wrong? The fingerboard looked like it was in the right place....but hey, what's the bridge doing right at the end of the fingerboard? And that tailpiece, why has it got such a long tail? Once I worked all this out, I could move my attention back to the actor. But it was weird; when he left the stage at the end, he did not take his big fiddle with him. That really grated!

So the play is about an orchestral double bass player who has been playing it for years (he's a proper civil servant - it's a German play); he begins by saying how important the double bass is in the orchestra, and goes through all the history of the role of the double bass (he was mostly right, though there was something which sounded out of place to my musicological mind; can't remember what it was). He then meanders around the meaning of life, a performance with Abbado conducting, him never getting a solo, some woman problems. I thought that it was a play translated from American - this guy was very nervous, and kept saying 'gerai, gerai, gerai' as in 'ok, ok,ok', but now I wonder what the German equivalent would be. Šarūnas Puidokas did really well; it seemed just so natural, like a total stream of consciousness which it would be in real life - but I missed Robiko Sturua's funny walks! Puidokas even got a note or two out of the instrument, when it was needed, which was great. And his hands - oh his hands - they are soooo beautiful!

Though, if you are a foreigner in Vilnius, with not a word of Lithuanian and no knowledge of music, maybe pick another play to go to, eh?