BY ROLAND SCHIMMELPFENNIG, TRANSLATED BY DAVID TUSHINGHAM
12 January 2017 — 11 February 2017
★★★★★ "The most exciting new play I've seen in years… The play is as funny as it is subtle. It is also thrillingly innovative. Ramin Gray’s magnificent production captures both the playfulness and the profundity of Schimmelpfennig’s text.” Michael Arditti, Sunday Express
★★★★ “It’s a rare and delightful play that works on three levels simultaneously. Firstly, the family drama, richly comic, accurately skewers a wide spectrum of human behaviour. Next, the writing shows thrilling formal invention; the actors speak lines of scene-setting narration and comment on their characters’ thoughts and actions. Director Ramin Gray mirrors this in a production that makes ingenious use of four trestle tables strewn with coffee cups to conjure up all sorts of domestic scenes. It’s the world as we know it – but at an angle.
Lastly, of course, there is Schimmelpfennig’s ominous underlying message. Who – or what – has taken up residence in our lives without our really noticing?” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
★★★★ “The timing is perfect… Ramin Gray’s superb production… Nicholas Le Prevost is smoothly plausible as Rudolph, Kate Fahy captures perfectly Corinna’s truculent loneliness, Dominic Rowan and Laura Rogers are scratchily self-absorbed as the quarrelling hosts and Milo Twomey conveys the parasitic nature of an intimate family friend. Lizzie Clachan’s design also makes ingenious use of shuffled tables to show order dissolving into chaos. But what really counts is that Schimmelpfennig, in portraying the failure of liberal intellectuals to confront the hideous legacy of the past, has written a potent play for today.” Michael Billington, Guardian
★★★★ “Schimmelpfennig is one of Germany's most prolific and popular playwrights and what is brilliant about Winter Solstice – translated by David Tushingham and given a scalding co-production by the Orange Tree and the Actors Touring Company – is the way it shows the seductive appeal of dangerous, neo-Nazi views, the ease with which it wins converts to its side. Written in 2013, in response to the re-emergence of the far right in Europe, it feels like a bellwether in the time of Trump and Brexit, a warning of just how easy it is for liberal values to be overcome…
Ramin Gray directs with energetic aplomb... And the acting is immaculate. Nicholas Le Prevost is attractive but menacing as Rudolph, Kate Fahy an eternally eager and perpetually disappointed Corinna, grasping at happiness with bright eyes. As Bettina, Laura Rogers catches exactly the right brittle note, while Milo Twomey is suitably slimy as the artist whose conversion to the cause is terrifyingly extreme.
And as Albert, a gentle man with his own sad secrets, a dangerous recklessness with heart tablets, and an unfortunate allergy to pine trees, Dominic Rowan becomes a comic, crumpled Everyman, someone who knows the truth but can't bring himself to tell it. Someone like most of us.” Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage
★★★★ “Schimmelpfennig wrote the play four year ago in response to the resurgence of the far right across Europe. It’s no accident that Ramin Gray’s trenchant, superbly performed UK premiere – a co-production between Actors Touring Company and the Orange Tree Theatre – opens in the same week as the Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump with his talk of banning Muslims and walling off Mexicans, his popularity with the alt-right and his worrying Cabinet appointments.
A timely warning about the risks of “normalisation”. Strongly recommended.” Paul Taylor, Independent
★★★★ “Roland Schimmelpfennig, wrote Winter Solstice in the course of 2013 and 2014, in response to the rise of the new right in Europe. His play is better than a clarion call. Like its antihero, it is stealthy and subtle. It calls on its audience not to rise up and resist but to train themselves in observation. To realise by watching this gradually unfolding drama how easy it is to be inveigled, infiltrated.” Susannah Clapp, The Observer
★★★★ “Gray’s smartly cast production could hardly be clearer. As the alt-right’s support continues to grow in Germany, as populism spreads across the West, Schimmelpfennig’s play is a timely warning to liberals that they must stand up for their values if they want them to survive.” Jane Edwardes, The Sunday Times
★★★★ “Part Churchillian experiment with form, part satirical swipe at a liberal life of pseudo-intellectual posturing, part piercing commentary on the rise of the alt-right, Schimmelpfennig's play has an awful lot to offer: a rich vein of bitingly sharp humour, a superbly drawn set of flawed characters, and a timely warning that fascism begins at home. It’s exactly the kind of exciting, experimental, insightful theatre the Orange Tree and the Actors Touring Company do so well.” Fergus Morgan, The Stage