John Malkovich he possesses a translucent, glassy magnetism, or perhaps it is the one he projected from the role of the grim Viscount Valmont in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, perhaps his most memorable film work. That brittle look full of sharp edges is ideal for the character who has come to Madrid to play, within the Summers of the Villa. It is not often that -international- figures of his category rise to the tables in our country; That is why the expectation in the Patio del Conde Duque was evident, and the applause at the end of the performance was warm and grateful (at least by the majority of the public who remained in their seats to reward the performers).
‘The Infernal Comedy – Confessions of a Serial Killer‘ is a stage project that John Malkovich has been involved in for fourteen years. In that time he has visited several Spanish cities, although in Madrid, where his presence has been announced on more than one occasion before, he has made himself beg. He already visited the capital almost two decades ago as director of ‘Hysteria’, a show that recreated a meeting between Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dalí; one of the interpreters of that function, Elizabeth Serrano, went to see Malkovich in the (very) sultry Madrid night.
‘The Infernal Comedy’ is based on the life of Jack Unterweger, an Austrian serial killer who killed twelve women between 1974 and 1994, the year of his suicide. The singularity of Unterweger is that after his first conviction for murder, the pressure of different intellectuals and politicians (among them Elfriede Jelinek, Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004), which they exhibited as a flag of reintegration, obtained a pardon from the Austrian authorities. And it is that Unterweger had already achieved a certain notoriety as a writer in prison, an activity that he continued to develop, as well as journalism, when he was released from prison. However, there was no repentance in him and no rehabilitation was certain, and he continued his criminal career. “I feel like I have permission to kill those women without getting caught,” says Malkovich’s character, who continues, “I’d rather be a killer than a nobody.”
‘The Infernal Comedy’ is a show as fascinating as it is shocking directed by Michael Sturminger. It is already the fact that the story, completely gruesome, is announced as a comedy. But even more so is the packaging that has been given to it: two sopranos and a chamber orchestra (Susanne Langbein, Chen Reiss and the Angelic Music Orchestra, under the direction of Adrian Kelly), who perform music by Vivaldi, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Boccherini, Weber and Glück. It is a mixture as surprising as it is fascinating (although the operatic arias frequently slow down the pace of the show): while Unterweger (Malkovich) cheekily and smugly narrates the story of his life and the motivation for his criminal attitude), the music expresses feelings that they could well be those of the killer’s victims. There is an acid aftertaste in the beauty of the operatic fragments, which always present pleading women, longing for love and muddy for it, while the murderer is presented lacking conscience or, of course, repentance, although the text does not judge him in any way. moment.
‘The Infernal Comedy’ is not intended to be a story to use nor does it present the story in a narrative way. Malkovich, who initially appears to the public playing with the ambiguity whether it is the actor himself or the character, he plays Unterweger, who is at an event to promote his posthumous book -“I wrote it after my death,” he says-, and it is from there that he tells his story, wrapped always for the mystery of what is true and what is the product of his fantasy.
John Malkovich is a powerfully magnetic performer -although the Count-Duke’s setting is not the most suitable for enjoying this show-. His charismatic presence meets his wisdom. He conveys with simplicity the great humor and irony that his speeches distill, but it is his silences and his gestures, absolutely magnetic, that best express the psychotic profile of his character, his cruelty, his delusional mind, his intelligence and his desire to transcend through his crimes.