Children Act

von Ian McEwan Bühnenadaption des Romans »The Children Act«

Premiere 13/02/2021



02/Sat SchauSpielHaus / World Premiere

19th November 2019, Berlin regional court. Two doctors are convicted of manslaughter. During a birth by caesarean section, they first brought out the healthy twin, then, at the request of the mother, ended the life of the other twin, heavily handicapped, directly in the womb. Infanticide according to the judge, the right to late abortion according to the doctors’ defence. These are the kinds of borderline cases, where the law conflicts with moral judgment, which family judge Fiona Maye is regularly called on to consider and decide. In her mid-fifties, she is at the high point of her career and the low point of her marriage when she is called to an emergency hearing to decide upon life or death: without a blood transfusion seventeen-year-old Adam, who has leukaemia, will die in a matter of days. But his parents, strict Jehovah’s Witnesses, firmly reject this lifesaving measure. Their faith prohibits them from putting the life of their child before their religion. Without further delay, Fiona decides to visit Adam in the hospital – and thereby deviates from the path that legal professionalism dictates. It is a serious step with fatal consequences.
Ian McEwan's novel »The Children Act«, published in 2014 and made into a film in 2017, deals with the contradictions of the reference systems we use to guide our decisions. What to do when values conflict with each other: religion against secular law, empathy against rational knowledge, subjective moral sentiment against objective social norms? And how much responsibility can be derived from this for individual human actions? Ian McEwan's characters, their psychologies brilliantly drawn, are caught in a moral dilemma that plunges them into a tragic crisis of judgement and deep emotional despair. Judge Fiona finally decides: “I am convinced that his life is worth more than his dignity.” She sentences Adam to life. But Adam demands his right to assume the responsibility she has taken for his life, to the last degree.

Directed by: Karin Beier Dramaturgy: Sybille Meier