Sebastian Zimmler (Jakub Shapiro)
Sven Schelker (Andrzej Ziembinski / Kazimierz Bobiński)
Toini Ruhnke (Anna Ziembińska)
Rosa Thormeyer (Ryfka Kij)
Anna Blomeier (Emilia Shapiro)
Oliver Mallison (Kaplica)
Tarik Sanli, Goya Brunnert (Mosche Bernstein; altern.)
In 1930s Warsaw, Jewish boxer Jakub Shapiro is using the strength and agility of his body to fight his way out of the misery of his upbringing. He works for his godfather Jan Kaplica, who rules over Warsaw like Al Capone ran Chicago. The crook controls the brothels, collects protection money and enjoys the good life in fancy cars and dark bars. Shapiro accompanies Kaplica and does the dirty work for the empire. But soon the mafia business and the good life are shattered by the fight against Polish nationalists, who want to take control of the city. ‘The Boxer’ paints a striking picture of the city of Warsaw shortly before the German armed forces march in.
Young, multi-award winning Polish director Ewelina Marciniak has adapted this novel for the stage, written by star of the Polish contemporary literature scene, Szczepan Twardoch. She tells the story from the perspective of the three women in Shapiro’s life, particularly his lover Ryfka, a brothel owner.
‘The Boxer’ can be read as a warning against growing nationalism in Poland and Europe today. But it is also a Ballade Noire about the evil that infects everyone in this story: nationalists, communists, Jews, boxers, gangsters, politicians and any of the middle classes that profit through the deportation of their Jewish neighbours. When violence is so attractive that it bewitches us, says Marciniak, are we then able to fight it, to write about it, to watch a play about it – and remain untouched by its allure?
World premiere 14th September 2019, thalia gauss