This book grips you. It is a ‘Bildungsroman’ (educational novel) from a man who moved out of a rectory in the German province into the big wide world of pop culture, full of shining promise with its vociferous proposals, posturing and ideas.
In Hamburg, the yellow illuminated writing on the platform wall beneath the art gallery spells out ‘your own history’. And so the first person narrator acts as the showman of his own legend, illuminating the great successes and merciless crashes, this insatiable longing for the magical moments of fame and the hard landing into drug addiction, depression and complete failure. Always there for reference and comparison, idolised and jeered: Udo, the man with the hat, the cigar and the green socks, whose songs accompany the narrator, simply because Udo has always been there. A Hare and Hedgehog story. At one point the two of them sit next to each other in Udo’s Porsche and drive through Hamburg at 30 kilometres per hour. That is the message: breakneck standstill!
Director Christopher Rüping is a specialist in ‘reflective surfaces, projections and self-reflection’. For him, ‘Panic Heart’ reflects the discrepancy between the perceived real narrator and the ever-evolving image of himself. A search, a loss, a cycle that Rüping recognises from the theatre: “Every actor who steps onto the stage is always preoccupied with presenting themselves to the audience in a certain way, and having a particular effect on them. That is a necessity and a compulsion that the theatre brings out in you and that I read into ‘Panic Heart’. It could be a fruitful symbiosis.”