Set on a small Mennonite farm in the prairies, MSBB takes a look at the life of devoted married couple Susch and Obrum Kehler. The big problem between the two lovers is that they can’t have any children. They have great bed shaking sex but unfortunately none of their fornication has lead to tiny unpaid farm helpers.
That’s where Beethoven Blatz comes in. Beethoven is a strange piano obsessed chap who comes into Obrum and Susch’s life to fix a broken piano Obrum had bought for his wife. As the play progresses the audience doesn’t learn too much about Beethoven (other than he’s slightly mad). But he gives the play its central conflict and resolution as Susch and Obrum come to terms that they can not reproduce with each other.
And last, there is Teen, a neighbour of the Kehler’s and Susch’s best friend. She is the moral one in the play who tends to speak her mind and is always looking out for her friend’s happiness.
All four actors in MSBB do a really good job playing their parts. Eric Nyland plays the off kilter Beethoven with ease and a craze that comes off effortlessly. Tracy Penner nails the her part as the wife who struggles with her love for her husband and her want for a child at any cost. Tom Keenan does a fine job as the hopeless husband, but his Mennonite accent seemed to wane at times. Daria Puttaert did a good job at portraying strong hearted and one line zinger Teen.
Armin Wiebe said in his talkback that it he started thinking of ideas for this play in 1996.
Having watched the play, it is evident that the characters have lived inside his head for a long time, all having fully fleshed out character traits and wants.
His talkback in a whole was rather vague to me however, as I don’t think I received a deeper understanding for the play after he spoke to us (the uncomfortable writer persona shinning through). When asked why he featured Ludwig Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor), the response we received was because he liked it. I was hopping for more of an explanation as the piece is rampantly featured in the play, but que sera sera.
MSBB is not a play that I would have picked to go to myself. The plot for the play isn’t the most original, but the characters and their quirks made the play interesting overall. I’d give it 3 Roger Ebert’s out of 5.