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  • How ‘Der Schimmelreiter / Hauke Haiens Tod’ offers a deft warning


How ‘Der Schimmelreiter / Hauke Haiens Tod’ offers a deft warning

Gockel's adaptations of 'The Rider and the White Horse' and 'The Death of Hauke Haien' investigate the impact of the past on the present, all while solving a mysterious murder ★★★.

Photo: Philip Zwanzig

What purchase does the past have on the present – and the future? Jan-Christoph Gockel’s atmospheric adaptation of both Theodor Storm’s The Rider on the White Horse and Andrea Paluch and Robert Habeck’s The Death of Hauke Haien asks that the audience reflect on this question through its exploration of Wienke Haien’s investigation of the death of her father, the dike master Hauke Haien.

Did he kill himself, or was he murdered? Was he a visionary genius or simply as confused as the rest of us? Were his plans to hold back rising waters for one hundred years hubris or heroic?

Hieu Pham and Zora Schemm give moving performances as versions of Wienke, who reappraises her father in this shared project by the Deutsches Theater and RambaZamba Theater, an inclusive theatre group featuring actors with and without disabilities.

Photo: Philip Zwanzig

With an inspired use of taxidermic puppetry by Michael Pietsch to trouble the line between the dead and the quick, as well as live music and film orchestrated by Anton Berman and Eike Zuleeg, the production proves a deft warning about how the past can swallow up the present and endanger the future.

While not every choice harmonises, Gockel’s haunted world of cults, ghosts, gas stations and puppets – and its welcome moments of comic relief – is a marvel of theatrical collaboration to the final moment, where we watch the stage be deconstructed until only Pham and Schemm remain, holding hands, contemplating the unknown centuries ahead. ★★★

  • Deutsches Theater, Schumannstr. 13A, Mitte, Jun 25 (German with English surtitles), details.