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Stage

A Summary of Everything That Was at Gorki

A generation of displaced people has a new story to tell in Gorki's startling production of Eine Zusammenfassung von allem was war.

Photo: Esra Rotthoff / Maxim Gorki Theater

Looking upon an empty stage, the actors – sitting in the front row – invite the audience to “imagine” a list of scenarios from the mundane to the absurd, before bursting onto the boards.

Full of youthful intensity, the four-piece cast slip in and out of countless characters and run the gamut of human emotions while switching seamlessly between three languages, until at some point you forget which language you’re listening to and which one you’re reading.

There are moments of sheer physical endurance that leave the audience gasping for breath alongside the actors.

The blurring of lines and realities reflects the book on which the performance is based: Rasha Abbas’ 21 short stories place individuals experiencing exile, detention, loneliness, loss of identity and physical and mental violence in fictional and abstract events and locations. There is humour sprinkled throughout the fear and disorientation, and this is highlighted on the stage, particularly in the outstanding performance by actor Kenda Hmeidan.

There are moments when you want to turn away, when the pounding techno music is too much, when the actress with her head in a bucket is about to suffocate, or the recreational drug user is on the verge of a panic attack. Moments that will have the older generation shifting uncomfortably in their seats while the younger leans in. Moments of sheer physical endurance that leave the audience gasping for breath alongside the actors.

Stark and startling, this piece leaves you with the feeling that a generation of displaced people has a new story to tell – not about being victims, but about being active parts of society who carry their experiences with them into new worlds.

Director: Sebastian Nübling / ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

March 16, 17, Maxim Gorki, Mitte (In German, Arabic and English)

Don’t miss our March roundup of the best theatre in Berlin.