Theatre Review - Linck & Mülhahn

RUBY Thomas’s queer love story is inspired by real events, drawn from 18th-century court records. In 1720, Anastasius Linck (Maggie Bain) passes for a Prussian soldier.

They enjoy a good life and are well liked in the regiment but, faced with a full medical examination, Anastasius is forced to run.

Rebellious Catharina Mülhahn (Helena Wilson) lives with her widowed mother (Lucy Black) who is keen to find her a good match. Catharina loses herself in books while yearning for adventure and a way out of her stifling existence. She’s ambitious and dreams of writing or taking to the stage.

Anastasius finds employment as a clothmaker in Catharina’s town where he claims to be the son of Cornelius Rosenstengl from Prague. They meet clandestinely, fall for each other and, eventually, Catharina persuades Anastasius to marry her.

They live in a garret and Anastasius encourages their beloved Catty to write. Despite their modest means, it’s a joyous marriage and both feel liberated for the first time.

Until Catherina’s mother grows suspicious about Anastasius’s true identity and sets out to destroy their newfound happiness.

Simon Well’s revolving set is well-utilised, transforming from a parlour to shop and prison cell.

The final act is set in a courtroom with an affronted and pompous male judiciary determined to punish the couple. Anastasius, charged with sodomy and desertion, faces execution.

Catharina’s sentence turns on whether she knew the truth about her “husband” before they married.

It’s skilfully staged by Owen Horsley, although the snatches of punk and Bowie that punctuate the action feel a little heavy-handed. Bain shines as the soldier-turned-tradesman and Black also impresses as the meddling mother. Slightly self-conscious in the early scenes, once Wilson settles into her role she matches them with a sensitive and spirited performance.

Poignant and entertaining. Recommended.

Until March 4

Originally published by Camden New Journal