When Yu comes to the Lumpenkabarett the next day for the audition, she somehow manages to arrive one hour too early, takes this as a bad omen, and decides to give up the whole thing and to leave. She walks down Warmoesstraat in a dumb state, but when she reaches the Dam, she changes her mind again, goes back to the theatre, dives down the stairs in the dark and sits at the bar to wait for the manager.
On stage, a loose rehearsal is going on, or maybe the performers are having a break, because they’ve just been casually talking for the last ten minutes. It’s quite odd to see them in full costume but in non-performance mode – it has somehow more impact than when they are dancing or playing music! The front woman in expressionist black and white make-up is wearing thigh high boots with twelve centimeter heels, opera gloves, a leather choker and not much more. She seems to suffer from backache since she keeps twisting her spine and stretching with painful grins, locking her arms behind her head, or leaning frontwards completely – like dancers do –, still talking.
The tall musician – wearing similar but rougher make-up, and a black suit – just stands there looking in the void, answering with few words, and seems absorbed in intricate and somber thoughts – though this might just as well be an impression due to his make-up. Then he slowly puts down his guitar on its stand, walks to the black curtains that he tears open and rolls a wheeled mirror to the centre of the stage. He then undergoes an astonishing transformation: in a few gestures, he opens his black shirt, unbuckles his trousers that drop on his boots, messes up his long hair, twists his upper body like a hunchback and distorts his face in a grotesque grimace. It ‘s as if he conjured out of nowhere an obscene, hellish clown with a toothless and drooling mouth wide open, bulging eyes turned white, twisted fingers writhing with crustacean movements, the whole body seemingly moved by a slow cramp resolving in a silent scream, like in horror of seeing itself in the mirror…
Then, as suddenly as he had turned into this misshapen freak, the musician straightens up, quickly puts his clothes back on with a sulky pout – but here again it’s hard to tell – and a clearly skeptical sniff, and mumbles: ‘I’m really not sure’. The woman is now hanging upside down from a rail fixed on the upstage wall, loosening her sore backbone – she asks: ‘So, can we work on the new Johanna sketch, now?’ Since he doesn’t answer, she goes on: ‘Did you watch this YouTube video I e-mailed you yesterday? Johanna on some Austrian TV show, just baffling!’
At the sound of heavy steps descending the stairs, Yu switches from the stage to the forthcoming meeting, quickly recalling the pitch she prepared for the cabaret manager. It’s hard to tell if she belongs here, but at least she has to try.