by Rolf Hochhuth
5 August - 30 August 2014
“Wars do not break out, they are not brokered or declared as is always written. They are brought about by those who desire them.”
The UK premiere and the World Premiere in English
★★★★ Four stars, Everything Theatre
Commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War…
Commissioned by the Finborough Theatre from Cerberus Theatre, the UK premiere and the English world premiere of controversial German playwright Rolf Hochhuth’s Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death in a brand new translation.
In June 1914, Europe was enjoying unprecedented peace and prosperity.
Little over a month later, the world was at war – and only a handful of people knew it was happening.
Inspired by the medieval mystery plays Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death is an epic telling from a German and European perspective of the world’s descent into war. Employing the character of Death as a guide, the play uses the classic Danse Macabre structure of a series of searing vignettes to illuminate the people and the events that led up to the outbreak of the First World War.
“The dead are amongst us, they are inside us. They demand of us that we answer for our crimes.”
At the turn of the twentieth century, Germany was the cultural and economic envy of the continent – until Kaiser Wilhelm II and Admiral Tirpitz massively expand the German Navy and spark an arms race with Great Britain.
At the same time, leaders in Vienna and Berlin are convinced that a quick pre-emptive war is the safest way to deal with the military might of Russia and France.
Whilst King Edward VII repeatedly warns Austria’s aged emperor of Germany’s dangerous predilection for playing soldiers, British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill invokes a plan to not-so-secretly arm the ocean liner Lusitania, so that it and its many American passengers are a target for German submarines.
In Paris in March 1914, the war-hungry Editor of French newspaper Le Figaro is murdered by the wife of the pacifist Minister of Finance. In Berlin in May 1914, German Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg plants information in the press that Great Britain plans to attack Germany as soon as it can decide a date.
Even scientific reason is distorted by the fog of war as the German Jew Fritz Haber – torn between duty to his country and the pleas of his wife – becomes the father of chemical warfare.
But, ultimately, it is a twenty year old student, Gavrilo Princip, who provides the spark that changes the world forever…
This latest work from Rolf Hochhuth (following the Finborough Theatre’s acclaimed productions of two previous works by Rolf Hochhuth – Soldiers and The Representative ) Sommer 14 – A Dance with Death is a hugely ambitious epic vision of the Great War from one of Europe’s most acclaimed – and most controversial – dramatists.
About The Playwright Rolf Hochhuth
Playwright Rolf Hochhuth was born in West Germany in 1931. Rolf Hochhuth’s provocative first drama, Der Stellvertreter. Ein christliches Trauerspiel (The Deputy, a Christian tragedy), also known as The Representative) (1963), accuses Pope Pius XII and the Roman Catholic clergy of tolerating Nazi crimes against the Jews. It received productions worldwide and caused great controversy, as well as recently being adapted for the film Amen. It was produced at the Finborough Theatre in 2006. His second play, Soldiers (1967), initially banned in England, received its world premiere in Berlin in 1967, and received its first UK revival at the Finborough Theatre in 2004. It has also received acclaimed productions from Toronto to Melbourne. Later works include Guerrillas (1970), The Midwife (1972), The Survivor (1981) and the film A Love in Germany (1984).
About The Translator Gwynne Edwards
Translator Gwynne Edwards has prepared a new free adaptation of the play, from a literal translation by Jennifer Bakst. Gwynne Edwards is a specialist in Spanish theatre and cinema and, until recently, Professor of Spanish at the University of Aberystwyth, Wales. He has also translated and adapted more than forty plays from Spanish, French and Italian, many of which have been staged at major theatres in Britain and the United States. He has published three collections of Lorca's plays with Methuen Drama, and also collections of seventeenth–century Spanish and contemporary Spanish–American plays, together with adaptations from the correspondence and prose writings of Dylan Thomas. His books include Lorca: The Theatre Beneath the Sand, Lorca: Living in the Theatre, Dramatists in Perspective: Spanish Theatre in the Twentieth Century, The Discreet Art of Luis Buñuel and Almodóvar: Labyrinths of Passion.
About The Director Christopher Loscher
Director Christopher Loscher is currently Artistic Director of Cerberus Theatre. Theatre as director includes Count Oederland (Arcola Theatre), Portrait of a Young Man, possibly an Arab (V&A Museum), Holding Hands at Paschendale (sic)(White Bear Theatre) and The Police (BAC). Assistant Direction includes assisting on The Face of Beauty (78th Street Theatre Lab, New York City) and Stephen Jeffries’ Carmen 36’ (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). He co–founded Cerberus Theatre, a theatre company that produces new writing, new translations and reinventions of classic texts.
The Great War 100 Series
THEGREATWAR100 series is a new occasional series of works to be presented by the Finborough Theatre from 2014 to 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Other productions include the professional world premiere of Ivor Novello's operetta Valley of Song in January 2014.
The Press on Playwright Rolf Hochhuth's Previous Productions at the Finborough Theatre
Time Out and The Times Critics' Choice
"This is concentrated theatre and highly recommended." John Nathan, Jewish Chronicle
"Kenneth Tynan’s original 1968 production of Soldiers about the British blanket bombing of German cities during the Second World War caused such outrage that it is surprising to discover in this first ever UK revival just how reasonable and well balanced the play actually is...a gripping, stimulating evening." Colin Shearman, The Stage
"Dramatic dynamite ...In London’s highly politicised theatrical climate, John Terry’s mature, thought provoking production...this intelligent and ambitious play." Rachel Halliburton, Time Out
"You have to salute the bravery of Finborough supremo Neil McPherson for giving this difficult play its first London revival since the 1960s " Aleks Sierz, What’s On in London
"Rolf Hochhuth’s “Soldiers” caused an almighty stink back in 1967: disruptive rows at the National Theatre, fierce debates on television, a ban by the Lord Chamberlain leading to a delayed West End production. Seeing it again now makes one almost nostalgic for an era when political theatre could make front–page news. ...This is good theatre precisely because it offers genuine dialectical debate. It also has an obvious relevance to today." Michael Billington, The Guardian
"The deft handling of a clear–cut political issue, dealt with in such a blatantly confrontational manner, is terrifically gripping and makes for great theatre." Tom Ogg, Culture Wars
“Much better written than current political plays" Rhoda Koenig, Evening Standard
On The Representative
One of the top five shows in London – The Independent
★★★★ Four Stars Time Out
“The play is a work of such immense scope and power that it becomes one of those works which cannot be compared to anything: they demand that other works be compared to them” Bernard Levin, The Daily Mail on the original production
“This is a play [with] greater moral scope and polemical content than a contemporary audience is used to.” Caroline McGinn, Time Out
“A thoughtful and thought–provoking piece of theatre” Alistair Smith, The Stage
“This is a magnificent, mammoth, must–see drama…A terrific piece of theatre.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviewsgate.com
“Both engaging and thought provoking” Mike Williams, Vanguard
"An admirably incisive and complex study in the ethics of politics...A profound examination of the limits of moral responsibility" Robert Hanks, The Independent
“Kate Wasserberg’s production…reveals the power…of Hochhuth’s style of righteous documentary drama. Like Soldiers, The Representative is a powerful polemic” Jonathan Caines, Church Times
The Press on Director Christopher Loscher
“Weird, subversive, grotesquely enjoyable.” The Guardian on Count Oederland
“Ever–resonant.” Time Out on Count Oederland
“In this excellent production by Cerberus, it’s impossible not to become emotionally involved.” The Stage on Holding Hands at Paschendale
“Intense and gripping. Highly recommended.” The Irish World on Holding Hands at Paschendale
The Press on Sommer 14
★★★★ Four stars, Everything Theatre
“Fringe productions don’t come much more ambitious than this: the English-language world premiere of a sprawling, epic 1990 drama by the German playwright Rolf Hochhuth, offering a grotesque depiction of the build-up to the First World War, drawing on the medieval allegory of the danse macabre.” Sam Marlowe, The Times
“Always ready to surprise you, the Finborough presents a German play by the dramatist Rolf Hochhuth to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War. Rolf Hochhuth's plays have often raised controversy because of his provocative theses - The Representative and Soldiers come to mind.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network
“Amid the welter of shows about the First World War, Rolf Hochhuth's play is something of a rarity: an epic mix of history lesson, expressionist drama and Germanic Oh! What a Lovely War. Slimmed down in Gwynne Edwards's adaptation to 150 minutes, it also shows that the 83-year-old Hochhuth has lost none of his capacity for controversy.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
“Part theatre, part historical pageant, this translation offers an intriguing perspective on the nature and nurture of war.” Paul Vale, The Stage
“Another top-quality production from one of the best off-West End venues...It mixes multimedia and song, and is peppered with dark humour, creating an alienating and occasionally jarring experience.” Chelsey Pippin, Everything Theatre
“Devastating.” Daisy Bowie-Sell, Time Out
“Devastatingly effective.” Partially Obstructed View
“I found the play – being simultaneously premiered by the Berliner Ensemble – engrossing.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
“This is a play crackling with portent. It pulses with a contagious energy and a sense of purpose.” Greg Wetherall, Bargain Theatreland
“Among recent events commemorating the Great War, Sommer 14 stands out as an outstanding and thought provoking addition.” Anne Dunhill, Independent Catholic News
“Challenging and thought-provoking.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network
“Phenomenal design and a stand-out leading performance.” Chelsey Pippin, Everything Theatre
“A very powerful and polemical play...A very fine production. Go and see it if you can.” Starcourse
“There is a pitiful contemporary resonance in the state of world affairs when watching Sommer 14. It is one that reminds you that whilst we might travelled far in terms of time, we would appear to have actually learnt very little, if anything at all.” Greg Wetherall, Bargain Theatreland
“Hochhuth offers a fascinating portrait of the inexorable march towards war: one especially good scene shows the German high command in August 1914 arguing heatedly over tactics.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
“With its politically didactic tone and fleet, wry, episodic scenes, each delivered under an explanatory heading, it is markedly Brechtian.” Sam Marlowe, The Times
“Military wrangles and diplomatic manoeuvres are also elucidated with remarkable skill in Christopher Loscher's production, aided by Mike Lees's design, and there are outstanding performances, in a 12-strong cast, from Dean Bray as the ubiquitous Death and Tim Faulkner as a quietly authoritarian kaiser.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
“The cast are all very good indeed.” Starcourse
“Christopher Loscher directs a strong cast.” Daisy Bowie-Sell, Time Out
“Edmund Dehn's seasoned professionalism and craft as Emperor Franz Joseph and Admiral von Tirpitz were very fine.” Starcourse
“Nick Danan’s savvy and conniving Winston Churchill.” Paul Vale, The Stage
“It is the minor characters, however, that feed the emotional core of this play, such as Sarah-Jayne Butler’s Lusitania victim and Andrea Hart as Clara Haber, the German scientist who commits suicide rather than further the development of chemical weapons.” Paul Vale, The Stage
“Sarah-Jayne Butler gives a particularly riveting and haunting performance as a victim of the sunken Lusitania.” Chelsey Pippin, Everything Theatre
“Sarah-Jayne Butler is excellent.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network
“Christopher Loscher’s lucid direction.” Paul Vale, The Stage
“Christopher Loscher’s bold, fluid production.” Sam Marlowe, The Times
“Christopher Loscher, with help from Mike Lees’ versatile design, maintains a brisk pace without sacrificing clarity and makes excellent use of projections.” Marianka Swain, The Arts Desk
“Director Christopher Loscher and production designer Mike Lees have imbued the tight constraints of their theatre stage with atmosphere and authenticity.” Greg Wetherall, Bargain Theatreland
“A sumptuous production design by Mike Lees.” Paul Vale, The Stage
“The production design by Mike Lees is impressive. The costumes are lavish and utterly authentic.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network
“The show’s biggest strength is its conceptualisation and design. I’m always amazed by the Finborough’s distinct ability to make me feel as if I’ve never been there before...all credit is due to the Finborough’s consistently high standard when it comes to the elements of design.” Chelsey Pippin, Everything Theatre
“The Finborough is one venue that never fails to deliver, and...Sommer 14: A Dance of Death is another on a long list of memorable and impressive shows to grace their intimate and versatile space.” Chelsey Pippin, Everything Theatre
“This was my first visit to the `small but mighty’ Finborough Theatre in Earls' Court, and I found its reputation for excellence richly deserved.” Anne Dunhill, Independent Catholic News
Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
Theatre includes Wuthering Heights (Baron’s Court Theatre), Kiss Me Kate (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), The West End Men (Vaudeville Theatre) and The Martyr (Soho Theatre).
Secretary, Princess Stéphanie, War Widow, Lusitania Victim
Trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Theatre includes Thark (Park Theatre), This House (National Theatre), Summer and Smoke (Southwark Playhouse), Edward II, Mary Rose, From Morning to Midnight (National Theatre Studio), The Pitmen Painters (National Theatre and Duchess Theatre), The Judas Kiss (Theatre Royal Bath and National Tour), Tim and Light (National Tour), Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently (Nabokov), The Wind in the Willows (Theatre503), Jackajack (National Tour), Total (The Old Police Cells Museum) and Miss Dorothy.com (Lyric Studio and National Tour).
Film includes Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Lie With Me: A Foreplay and Love Me Till Monday.
Television includes The Jesus Mysteries and Ashes to Ashes.
King Edward VII, General Dragutin Dimitrijević, General Helmuth von Moltke
Trained at St. Catherine's Drama Studio Guildford.
Theatre includes A Flea in Her Ear, Pygmalion (The Old Vic), The Sunshine Boys (Savoy Theatre), King Lear (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Fool (Cock Tavern), The Recovery Position (Lion and Unicorn Theatre), Measure for Measure (Theatre Royal Bath), Ohio Impromptu (Gate Theatre, Dublin and The Barbican Theatre), The Creeper (Theatre Royal Windsor and National Tour), The Diary of Anne Frank (Birmingham Rep and National Tour), Sense and Sensibility (Northcott Theatre, Exeter and National Tour), The Real Inspector Hound and Black Comedy (National Tour), All My Sons (Vienna’s English Theatre), Hay Fever (Eye Theatre), Lady Windermere’s Fan (Birmingham Rep, Albery Theatre and National Tour), Entertaining Mr Sloane, Molly Sweeney, Frozen, Humble Boy, Ghosts and The Importance of Being Earnest (National and Irish Tours). Film includes Silver Lining and 99 and Counting.
Television includes Crimewatch, Grange Hill and The Bill.
Monsieur Gaston Calmette, Lord Admiral Winston Churchill, Fritz Haber
Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Over the Bridge.
Theatre includes When The Fallen Sang (St. Giles-in-the-Fields Church), The Titanic Boys (Grand Opera House, Belfast), Holding Hands At Paschendale (White Bear Theatre), Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Butterfly Theatre Company) The Proposal (King's Head Theatre), Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Globe), From Both Hips (Old Red Lion Theatre), The Shadow Of A Gunman (Tricycle Theatre), The Quare Fellow (Oxford Stage Company), The Lieutenant Of Inishmore (Garrick Theatre), This Lime Tree Bower (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), One Last White Horse (Union Theatre), Juno and The Paycock (Haymarket Theatre, Leicester) and Gym and Tonic (Hull Truck).
Film includes Bubblegum Junkies, Mass, One in a Million and Silent Night.
Television includes The Challenge, Henry V and Safe.
Radio includes Vostok, It's Enough to Believe You’re in Danger, Belongings and The Shadow of a Gunman.
Franz Joseph, Admiral Tirpitz
Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Joe, The Alternative, The Police, The Don Juan and the Non Don Juan, The Optimist's Daughters, The Women's War – Press Cuttings, Coyote Ugly and The Representative.
Theatre includes Cosi (King’s Head Theatre), This Story of Yours (Old Red Lion Theatre), The Tailors’ Last Stand (Baron’s Court Theatre), The Tempest (Regional Tour), The Book of Job (Theatre Royal Norwich), Murder in the Cathedral (Truro Cathedral), Beggars Opera (National Tour), Coriolanus (St. George's Theatre, Tufnell Park), The Alchemist (Courtyard Theatre), Last of the Red Hot Lovers (English Theatre, Hamburg), Snow White (Phoenix Theatre), King Lear (National Tour) and The Bends of the Danube (Merlin Theatre, Budapest)
Film includes Lovelorn (Best Supporting Actor award at the LA Reel Film Festival), Spoon, Cradle of Fear, Kid Gloves, Junta, Fraternity, Olive Green, K-Shop and Judge Minty Fan Film.
Television includes Oil Storm, Speer und Er, Knightmare, and The 10%ers.
Audio books include the unabridged Gormenghast Trilogy.
Gottlieb von Jagow, Lord Alfred Booth, Waiter, Baron Nicholas, Genrikhovich Hartwig, Director of the Washington National Gallery of Art
Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Theatre includes Abigail’s Party (Gladstone Theatre), The Birthday Party, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Long Shot (Unity Theatre, Liverpool), Blinded by the Light, Fully House Trained (24:7 Theatre Festival) and The Zoo Story (The Bluecoat, Liverpool).
Film includes Sweet and Right and Tiny Ruins: Carriages.
Editor 3, Kaiser Wilhelm II
Theatre includes Collision (Hackney Empire), Dangerous Corner (Ambassadors Theatre), The Guardsman (Albery Theatre), The Mousetrap (St Martin’s Theatre), Three Women (King’s Head Theatre), The Dorchester (Jermyn Street Theatre), Above All Courage (New End Theatre, Hampstead), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet (Stafford Shakespeare Festival), Emilia Galotti (Trilogy Theatre), Lock Up Your Daughters (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), Outside Edge (Churchill Theatre, Bromley), Boston Story, Charley's Aunt (The Mill at Sonning), First Impressions (Theatre Royal Margate) and The Dream Time (Edinburgh Festival).
Television includes Much Ado About Nothing, Messiah, Inspector Morse, Rumpole of The Bailey, Howards Way, Casualty, My Hero, The Fourth Arm, ‘Allo ‘Allo!, Stalkey and Co and Old Men at The Zoo.
Madame Henriette Caillaux, Lady Jennifer Randolph-Churchill, Clara Immerwahr Haber
Theatre includes The Homecoming, Miss Julie, Don Juan, Eva, A Picture of Dorian Gray, Summit Conference, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Human Voice, The Woman Destroyed, Blythe Spirit, Pal Joey, The Ice House, Women Beware Women, Quartet, The Soldiers, Pre-Paradise, Sorry Now and Major Barbara (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), The Misanthrope (Chichester Festival Theatre), An Ideal Husband, Merlin (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), Semi Monde (Lyric Theatre) and Nothing (Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theatre, New York City).
Film includes Miss Monday (Special Jury Prize for Best Actress at the Sundance Film Festival), My Life So Far and Little Boy Blue.
Television includes Taggart, Rebus, River City and Doctors.
Mrs Alice Keppel, A Girl, Miss Margot Stimson
Trained at the Royal Academy of Music Theatre includes From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre), Jesus Christ Superstar (Ljubljana Festival), Me and My Girl (Kilworth House, Leicester) Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Flashdance (Shaftesbury Theatre), Cinderella (Theatre Royal Wakefield), Crazy for You (London Palladium) and All the Town’s Men (Chichester Festival Theatre). Radio includes Friday Night is Music Night. Concerts include A Night at the Oscars (Liverpool Philharmonic Hall), Sondheim Prom (Royal Albert Hall) and Russell Watson La Voce (National Tour).
Professor Willy Stöwer, Baron Wladimir Giesl von Gieslingen
Theatre includes A Midsummer Night's Dream (Royal Shakespeare Company), Flowers and Salome (Lindsay Kemp Company), The Tempest (Shared Experience), Hamlet (Steven Berkoff), As You Like It (Northcott Theatre, Exeter), The Police (BAC), Count Oederland (Arcola Theatre), Bent (Tabard Theatre), Let Newton Be (Menagerie Theatre Company) and A Massacre at Paris (Rose Theatre, Kingston).
Films include Derek Jarman's The Tempest, Lindsay Kemp's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coronado's Hamlet, The Draughtsman's Contract, Octopussy, Bent and St John's Gospel.
Monsieur Joseph Caillaux, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Henry Stimson
Productions at the Finborough Theatre include A Day by the Sea.
Trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
Theatre includes Fatal Attraction (Theatre Royal Haymarket) The Long and The Short and The Tall (Albery Theatre), The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Derby Playhouse), Neville’s Island (Hull Truck), To Kill A Mockingbird (New Vic Theatre, Stoke), Bella Bella Donatella (Salisbury Playhouse), Wounds to the Face (The Wrestling School), Red Princess (Red Shift), Old Times, Sailor Beware, Jane Eyre (National Tour) The Horse and His Boy (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith) and The Upstanding Member (Old Red Lion Theatre).
Film includes The Parole Officer, Married 2 Malcolm and Over the Moon.
Television includes Downton Abbey, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Grownups, Spooks, Hollyoaks, Doctors, EastEnders, Down to Earth, Barbara, The Bill, Grange Hill, Family Affairs, The Estate Agents, My Hero, London’s Burning, Peak Practice and Kavanagh QC.
Editor 2, Dr Theodor Wolff, Trifko Grabež, Lieutenant Ernst von Weizsäcker
Trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where he was chosen to represent the school at the Graduate Spotlight Showcase.
Theatre includes Kindertransport (National Tour), Romeo and Juliet (National and European Tour), Great Expectations (York Theatre Royal), Macbeth (National Tour), Alice Diamond and the Forty Thieves (The Bell Theatre, London) and The Captain of Kopenick (The Space at the Edinburgh Fringe).
Film includes The Waterloo Men, What Manner of Men, I’ll Murder You, The Wilderness and Triple Theft.
5 August - 30 August 2014
Tickets and Times
|Saturday||3:00pm (from second week of the run)
2 hours and 20 minutes including one interval of fifteen minutes