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  • The Silence ★★★★


The Silence ★★★★

Coming to the stage of the Schabühne, Falk Richter's 'The Silence' is a powerful and immersive work of autofictional.

Photo: Giamarco Bresadola

A novelistic monologue recited by Dimitrij Schaad, who takes on the role of the play’s actual writer and director Falk Richter, this autofictional work reflects on what he calls “the silence” – everything that was not discussed in Richter’s childhood outside of Hamburg. His father’s experiences in World War II; his mother’s life for a decade as the “other woman”; Richter’s own sexuality; his mother’s household surveillance; the time two men split his face open.

To make up for all of the conversations that didn’t happen – some of which he imagines taking place – Schaad’s Richter, a figure of real anger and raw hurt (as well as, to comic effect, cringe-inducing self-absorption) just keeps talking. He delivers the monologue as an impassioned torrent, pausing only for projected clips from a series of interviews that Richter conducted with his actual mother, finally getting her to speak about the past she always avoided. Perhaps the piece strains toward too totalising a significance – how “the silence”, first characterising his familial relationship, becomes one repeated in his current relationship, but then is also code for sex in an adolescent one.

“The silence” then becomes an existential relationship, what always stands between Richter and the world. “Time”, as Schaad proclaims, “is not linear.” However, as a theatrical experience – and submerged love letter to a limited mother who never had the opportunities or emotional resources of the playwright – it is moving, perhaps even transformative. At least, when the lights turn on and Schaad takes his bows to the thunderous applause of the sold-out house, you are struck by just how completely he had transformed, and how you might have difficulty untangling the reality and the fiction. 

  • The Silence (d. Falk Richter) May 1-5, Schaubühne (German with English surtitles), details.