SOMMER 14: to 30 08 14


by Rolf Hochhuth.

Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Arms
118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 30 August 2014.

Tue-Sat 7.30m Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: Carole Woddis 7 August.

Finborough scores another coup.
Rolf Hochhüth’s reputation goes before him. The enfant terrible of German drama, in The Repesentative (1963) he accused Pope Pius X11 of collaborating with the Nazis in the Holocaust or at the very least, standing by and doing nothing to prevent it. In Soldiers (1967), initially banned in the UK though eventually staged by the Finborough (2004), he pointed the finger at Churchill for his saturation bombing on German cities.

Now the Finborough score another coup in bringing Hochhüth’s epic Sommer 14, a coruscating critique of the rulers who brought World War 1 into being in which Hochhüth again singles out Churchill, this time as a scheming warmonger for his arming of the Lusitania as bait for German submarines and as a way of drawing neutral America into the oncoming war.

On the Finborough’s tiny stage, `epic’ is not an easy quality to evoke. Hochhüth’s published script runs to over 230 pages. In Germany its production lasts nine hours.

For the Finborough, Gwynne Edwards’ `free adaptation’ is a heavily truncated version which excises historical characters and Hochhüth’s Greek mythic references. Yet such is the nature of his vision spanning the capitals of Europe and the US, epic is still the word best suited to describe the march of the Kaiser, the Tsar, Emperor Franz Joseph, Edward VII and Mrs Keppel, Churchill, Serbs, Parisian editors and incidental walk-on characters involved in the lead-up to the Great War.

Director Christopher Loscher and his team understandably go more for Hochhüth’s prosaic, historical documentary aspects though even within the Finborough’s confines, Sommer 14 could probably stand an edgier, satirical treatment .

What there is, is provided in a large, versatile and handsomely costumed cast by Dean Bray’s Death, a sardonic MC with Cabaret style savagery who embodies in British/Dutch composer Ermo Frakevyle’s terrific Brechtian style songs all the fury and condemnation its subject deserves of 9 million dead, mirroring the outrage of Oh What A Lovely War, if not its fleetness of foot.

If only a fragment of the Hochhüth original, this is still pretty amazing. A full treatment will probably have to wait for a Barbican German transfer or revival!

Sommer 14 – A Dance of Death
By Rolf Hochhüth
In a free adaptation by Gwynne Edwards
With additional material by Mhairl Grealis
From a literal translation by Jennifer Bakst

Prologue: The Isle of the Dead
Death: Dean Bray

The Madness of Murder, Offices of Le Figaro, Paris, March 1914:
Monsieur Gaston Calmette: Nick Danan
Madame Henrietta Caillaux: Andrea Hart

Song of the Scythes
Death: Dean Bray

King Edward Fails, Imperial Burgtheater, Vienna, March 1909:
Emperor Franz Joseph: Edmund Dehn
King Edward VII: Peter Cadden
Mrs Alice Keppel: Kirby Hughes
Princess Stéphanie: Sarah-Jayne Butler

A Chorale of Balances
Death: Dean Bray

His Majesty’s Master Spy, The Reich Chancellery, Berlin, May 1914:
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg: Stephen Omer
Gottlieb von Jagow: Reginald Edwards
Dr Theodor Wolff: Henry Proffit

The Espionage Song
Death: Dean Bray

Churchill’s Bait, Deck of the RMS Lusitania, March 1914:
First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill: Nick Danan
Lord Alfred Booth: Reginald Edwards
Lady Randolph Churchill: Andrea Hart

The Blood Pump:
War Widow: Sarah-Jayne Butler
Death: Dean Bray

Shots in Sarajevo, A Viennese Café, Sarajevo, June 1914

Major Dragutin Dimitrijevi’c: Peter Cadden
Trifko Grabe”z: Henry Proffit
Waiter: Reginald Edwards
A Girl: Kirby Hughes

Kaiserweather, Deck of the SMY Hohenzollern, June 1914

Kaiser Wilhelm II: Tim Faulkner
Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz: Edward Dehn
General Helmuth von Moltke: Peter Cadden
Professor Willy Stöwer: David Meyer
Lieutenant Ernst von Weizsäcker: Henry Proffit

Belgrade – The Ultimatum, Austrian Embassy, Belgrade, July 1914:
Baron Vladimir Giesl von Gieslingen: David Meyer
Baron Nicholas Genrikhovich Hartwig: Reginald Edwards

Monologue of a Sophisticated Munitions Manufacturer:
Death: Dean Bray

American Dollars for Blood, National Gallery, Washington, May 1915:
Director of the Washington Gallery:
Henry Stimson: Stephen Omer
Miss Margot Stimson: Kirby Hughes

One Gone Down with the Lusitania:
Lusitania Victim: Sarah-Jayne Butler

Death in an Airship:
Death: Dean Bray

A Scientist Fails, Faradeyweg 8, Dahlem, Berlin, May 1915:
Clara Immerwahr Haber: Andrea Hart
Fritz Haber: Nick Danan

Do Not Obey!
Death: Dean Bray

Now Thank We All Our God, Ministry of War, Berlin, August 1914:
General Helmuth von Moltke: Peter Cadden
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg: Stephen Omer
Gottlieb von Jagow: Reginald Edwards
Kaiser Wilhem II: Tim Faulkner
Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz: Edmund Dehn
Dr Theodor Wolff: Henry Proffit
Professor Willy Stöwer: David Meyer

Necrologue – The Unknown Soldier:
Death: Dean Bray

Europe: March 1909-May 1915

Director: Christopher Loscher
Production Designer: Mike Lees
Lighting Designer: Rob Mills
Music Composer and Sound Designer: Ermo Frankevyle
Dramaturg: Mhairi Grealis
Assistant Director: Tommo Fowler

Vocal Coach: Niamh McGuckin
Special Effects Make-up Design: Billie Jade Kermack

Presented by Cerberus Theatre in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre

First performed at the Burgtheater Vienna, in Feb 1990, directed by Robert David MacDonald.

UK premiere and World premiere in English at the Finborough Theatre, London, Aug 5, 2014

For more info see:

2014-08-12 10:23:21

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