David Grossman A Horse Walks into a Bar
Dramatic adaptation of David Grossman’s eponymous novel (2014) by Dušan David Pařízek
First performance in German
In German with English surtitles.
Co-production with the Burgtheater Wien
and the Deutsches Theater Berlin
Duration of the performance approx. 2 hours 40 minutes
- 10 August 2018, 19:30
- 12 August 2018, 20:30
- 14 August 2018, 20:30
- 15 August 2018, 19:30
- 18 August 2018, 19:30
- 21 August 2018, 20:30
- 23 August 2018, 19:30
Print programme (PDF)
Dov ‘Dovaleh’ Grinstein, ‘a fifty-seven-year-old boy reflected out of a fourteen-year-old man’, is asking a favour. A favour of Avishai Lazar, his nearly forgotten friend from their youthful days, whom he hasn’t seen in 40 years.
‘I want you to see me, really see me, and then afterward tell me,’
‘Tell you what?’
‘What you saw.’
Dov Grinstein is a stand-up comic, a rowdy, a solo entertainer, and a publicity hound. He steps out for his (last) performance in a hall in the dreary, abandoned industrial area of Netanya, a city between Haifa and Tel Aviv.
He goads his audience, addresses them directly, turns overtly offensive, apologizes tearfully. He plays the fool, tells jokes that are lame and brilliant, vulgar and innocent. The Shoah and its victims are no more spared by his humour, devoid of taboos, than is Israel’s political stance on the Palestinian territories.
For almost two hours Dov struggles maniacally to keep his audience’s full attention; it may not drift for a single listener, a single viewer. He has more to offer, after all, than a successful show; he is compelled to give an account of his ‘personal Chernobyl’, of the trauma, the guilt that has poisoned his life.
He answers for himself in front of Avishai, that severe but sympathetic friend of his youth, who as a judge habitually pronounced sentences formulated with knife-edge sharpness. Answering to God? – to his own injured self and the mob of audience members. And to Pitz, a psychic, a short woman with a pure soul that always saw him as a ‘good boy’.
Wearing the protective armour called ‘humour’ has enabled Dovaleh to survive, but it has also hardened him: against the history of his country which brought unimaginable anguish to almost every family; against painfully acquired callousness in the deadly conflict with the ‘Arabs’.
The hall empties out; not every audience member is able or willing to follow Dovaleh’s degradation of the ‘treacherous jester’. ‘Be an audience for one more second’, Dov asks his friend, the judge, at the end. Now he has finally been able to tell the tremendously comical story of the first burial in his life.
David Grossman, one of Israel’s most prominent contemporary narrative artists, has created in Dov Grinstein a character who speaks out of deep distress, badly hurt by a gratuitous ‘external power that violently penetrates into the life of a human being, of a human soul’ – but who sets himself free.
Eva-Maria Voigtländer, Translation: Vincent Kling