TWS Barker Catastrophe Current Past

Autumn 2001

Duty, passion, conflict..... and a dancing horse.

A world war threatens. On a remote and wild frontier stands a lonely castle with strange inhabitants. A bedridden poet and three women who may be his mistresses. Into this tense world rides a government messenger whose satchel contains the dispatch that might just spark the conflict. His mission is of the utmost urgency but despite all his attempts he is unable to leave. And all the time strange aircraft pass overhead from both directions, dropping not bombs but poems....

Can the women save him? Do they want to?
Will the messenger ever escape?

And why does he have a dancing horse?

Howard Barker's unnerving tale sets passion against duty amid the brinkmanship of war. Powerful poetic language, provocative ideas and rich, dark humour build a compelling study of the futility of will in the face of possession. This thought provoking work exposes the strange longing for crisis that seethes below the surface in us all.

Howard Barker's own production toured the UK and played in London during October/ November 2001.



The efforts of society are directed to the elimination of the crisis but the psyche of the individual craves a crisis. This paradox can never be resolved. It is the secret tension at the heart of all social order


As the crisis unfolds it oscillates between causality and randomness... as the characters grasp at significance, meaning slips between their fingers. Whatever purported to be evidence is chimera... this is the reverse of the detective story, which contains an immaculate truth, a solution .... the longing for enlightenment is here seen to be a desperate and punishing misapprehension... everything takes the characters to a destiny, but whether this destiny is willed, a collusion, or an accident, defies analysis. All that is left to them is an emotional perfection, a sublime arrival....

Howard Barker September 2001

I have developed the aptitude for crisis when the crisis has yet to materialise. Never mind. When the crisis does arrive how much more prepared I'll be.

The crisis is just another pretext for you to talk about yourself.

The crisis will certainly dispose of me and that I daresay is its purpose


Supported by the Arts Council of England.
Presented in association with the Gardner Arts Centre.

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