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It’s Britney, Bitch! Shattered illusions at Berliner Ensemble

With live songs and a head-shaving “breakdown”, Berliner Ensemble dissects the treatment of a young female star.

It’s Britney, Bitch! by Lena Brasch and Sina Martens. Photo: © JR Berliner Ensemble

Sina Martens appears as Britney, with the make-up and a blonde Britney-style wig, speaking Britney’s own words. The mirrored stage is ringed by the sinister glare of four spotlights. Here, the illusion of Britney is shattered – and it’s painful.

With texts by Laura Dabelstein, Fikri Anıl Altıntaş, Miriam Davoudvandi and director Lena Brasch, the Princess of Pop’s trajectory is the jumping-off point for a bloody dissection of the treatment of young women in the public eye. Resolutely not a biopic, there’s a strange take on addiction and a bit about how not thinking is the new botox which doesn’t land. But Martens’s powerhouse performance carries the show, woven through with composer Friederike Bernhardt’s thrillingly dark adaptations of classics like I’m A Slave 4 U, Toxic and Oops… I Did It Again.

Where it really takes off is in the exploration of the possibility of unconditional love and a harrowing meditation on women and anger: Britney’s 2007 head-shaving, umbrella-wielding “breakdown” is interpreted as an act of female emancipation. It’s not exactly enjoyable to watch, but that’s not the point: who knows if even Britney herself is laughing now.

D: Lena Brasch ★ ★ ★

It’s Britney, Bitch! Berliner Ensemble, Werkraum, (in German) Mar 17, 19, 20 and April 17, 18, 25