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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Arcola Theatre

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

PRESENTED by simple8 (The Four Stages of Cruelty), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari runs at the Arcola Theatre (Studio 2) from February 12 to March 16, 2013.

Written and directed by Sebastian Armesto and Dudley Hinton with simple8, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is inspired by the 1920 silent horror film of the same name which came to define cinematic Expressionism and inspire Film Noir.

Franzis Gruber, a lowly bureaucrat, lives a neat and ordered life in a sleepy, provincial German town. When a travelling fair arrives, full of clowns, freaks, magicians and sleepwalkers, it drags Franzis into a series of nightmarish murders – spinning dreams into reality, the imagined into truth and order into chaos.

In 1920s Germany, foreign films were banned and yet the public clamoured for cinema. So producers and directors decided to make their own films quickly and cheaply. They ended up with ‘Expressionism’ – painted back-drops and simple set-ups that told ghoulish, crazy, sometimes incoherent stories as effectively and directly as possible. In a way it was ‘poor’ cinema.

simple8 specialise in ‘poor’ theatre. They use what they have to tell the story in the most economical and simplest ways. Rather than re-creating The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, simple8 have transmuted the original material – as eight actors create the swirl of life, bureaucracy, showmanship, murder, love and insanity that drag Franzis Gruber into a fast, frenetic fairground attraction.

The cast includes Ollie Birch, David Brett, Christopher Doyle, Hannah Emanuel, Joseph Kloska, Sophie Roberts, Mat Wandless and Sargon Yelda (tbc).

The production is designed by Simon Alison and has lighting by Sherry Coenen.

Tickets: £17, £12 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7503 1646 or online at

Times: 8pm, plus 3pm matinees on February 23 and March, 2, 9 and 16.

Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (no interval).

NB: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is suitable for ages 11+ (due to themes and some strong language).

The same ensemble cast will perform Moby-Dick at the Arcola Theatre from March 27 to May 4 2013.

This new production captures the spirit and atmosphere of Herman Melville’s masterpiece – romantic, ambiguous and rich with allegory. It tells the story of Ishmael, a schoolmaster who enrolls under Ahab, Captain of the Pequod – a man bent on destroying the white whale that lost him his leg. Certain that revenge will slake his thirst, Ahab’s single-minded pursuit of Moby-Dick consumes Ishmael, the crew and the Pequod itself.