The 10 Selected Productions
Einfach das Ende der Welt
based on Jean-Luc Lagarce
Premiere 3 December 2020
For their production of Jean-Luc Lagarce’s modern classic, Christopher Rüping and his sublime cast have found a buyoant and clear form that is not afraid of grand gestures.
- 2 h 30 min
- In German with English subtitles and German audio description
For one weekend, a young man leaves his bohemian life in the big city behind to return to the place of his childhood after twelve years. He will see his family who have become strangers to him – or perhaps they always were. He has something important to tell them, but even before this happens, two fundamentally different ways of life collide with full force. Jean-Luc Lagarce is one of the most often performed dramatists in France and his play “Einfach das Ende der Welt (It’s Only the End of the World)” was made into a film with a star-studded cast. Christopher Rüping (who has been invited to the Theatertreffen for the fourth time) and his ensemble have found a playful, delicate theatrical form that addresses urgent social issues of classism, the divide between urban and rural regions, homophobia and the question of what exactly we owe to our family with quick wit and profound sincerity.
Theatertreffen-juror Andreas Klaeui about the production
“Einfach das Ende der Welt (It’s Only the End of the World)” is the story of the prodigal son: Louis – here called Benjamin, like the actor Benjamin Lillie. He set out for the metropolis at the age of twenty, to live the life of a homosexual and an artist. Twelve years later he returns, terminally ill, to talk to his family. Everything that could go wrong does go wrong – or rather, goes exactly as it should. Hardened resentments erupt, the old reproaches are still fresh, there is no reconciliation and in the end, Benjamin leaves once more.
What is home? At the beginning of this production from Zurich, Benjamin answers this question in a heart-rending manner. Before he sets out, he imagines his parental home as it was in his childhood. Everything is still there: the flowery wallpaper, the shag carpet, the video tapes, the collection of shells. Over an expansive, suspenseful first half hour, Benjamin – who is not a writer as in Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play, but rather a video artist – does nothing more than record this flat with his camera, internalising it and visualising it in images. The realism of memories becomes more and more insubstantial, finally turning surreal as it is meticulously concretised in close-ups and details. This exposition is rendered even more intense by the driving live sound of drummer Matze Pröllochs – whose character also turns out to be a phantasm, the remembered character of Benjamin’s late husband.
Following a short set-change interval, the acting area is empty, the scenery piled up by the walls, with its rough rear side showing. A space like a provisional sparring. Any truly lived life adheres to it only in memory.
The present is hard and sparse in this production: The past is suspended, in both meanings of the word. Christopher Rüping ruthlessly excavates the inescapable loneliness that traps the characters: the mutual lack of understanding, the projections, the subjective truths, the clipped memories. These characters are guided by idealisation and suppression: Ulrike Krumbiegel’s manipulative, childish mother, the good-will-sister-in-law clod of Maja Beckmann, Nils Kahnwald’s brother, weary of self-sacrifice, Wiebke Mollenhauer’s little sister, disappointed in her ardent love for her big brother and, of course, the arrogant Small Town Boy of Benjamin Lillie. The confrontation between the two unequal brothers ends up in a heated showdown, which incidentally challenges all prejudice towards the so-called provinces. Nothing is ever unambiguous in this performance, no solution is in sight, points-of-view shift continually and form the most beautiful web of family relations.
Christopher Rüping Director
Jonathan Mertz Set design
Lene Schwind Costume design
Matze Pröllochs Music
Frank Bittermann Lighting design
Katinka Deecke, Malte Ubenauf Dramaturgy
Maja Beckmann, Nils Kahnwald, Ulrike Krumbiegel, Benjamin Lillie, Wiebke Mollenhauer, Matze Pröllochs