This new version of Iben’s An Enemy Of The People by Florian Borchmeyer updates the action to contemporary time, merging the story to reflect on the current financial and environmental crisis. Created by Berlin’s Schaubühne and played in German with English surtitles, the play starts in a bourgeois young family and their circle of friends, playing in their own band. As the discovery of the polluted spa water threatens to ruin the town, the discussion moves away from the characters and the actors and takes in the whole audience. The preceded ten minutes lecture is from a more contemporary source commenting on more abstract ills of modern society. This spurs on the audience discussion which is surprisingly impassioned and occasionally funny.

Otherwise, the production is well acted, especially Christoph Gawenda as Dr. Stockmann and particularly effective opposite Ingo Hülsmann as his brother taking the opposing view. The merging of the original moralistic text and the modern context and issues is not completely seamless, but it brings out the immediacy of the main points which both reflects on the power of the original text and the long history of underlying ills of modern western society that has changed little since the late 19th Century.

Picture credits: Arno Decla


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