A tragicomedy by Gerhart Hauptmann
Running time: Two hours, 30 minutes, one interval
Run-down barracks right in the city centre. Former theatre manager Hassenreuter has taken lodgings in the attic with all the theatre’s props. The floor below is inhabited by the John family. Most of the time Mr John, who works in construction, is out on jobs in Altona. Mrs John works as a cleaning lady for Hassenreuter. Since the loss of her son only a few days after birth, she wants nothing more than another child. To her rescue appears a Polish maid, Pauline Piperkarcka, who has just been left by her bride groom and is heavily pregnant. Mrs John hauls her up to the attic where Pauline gives birth to her child which she is willing to leave with Mrs John. But happiness is not to last. Soon Piperkarcka comes back to reclaim her child...
After its premiere in 1911 the tragicomedy soon became one of Gerhart Hauptmann’s most successful plays. The grotesque make-believe world of the theatre and the undisguised tragedy of depraved petty bourgeois form a most sinister synthesis. »The Rats« are symbol of a decaying society in which Mrs John’s deceitful manipulations paradoxically seem to be the only really human impulse.
Karin Henkel’s production was invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen in 2013.
Photos © Klaus Lefebvre