Beware of Pity


The live stream will begin at 3pm GMT on Sunday 12 February, and will then be available on demand until 11.59pm GMT on Sunday 26 February.

Beware of Pity

Adapted by Simon McBurney, James Yeatman, Maja Zade and the Ensemble
Directed by Simon McBurney
Co-directed by James Yeatman

Set design by Anna Fleischle
Costumes by Holly Waddington
Lighting by Paul Anderson
Sound design by Pete Malkin
Sound associate Benjamin Grant

Video by Will Duke


Simon McBurney directs the outstanding Schaubühne ensemble in a vivid account of a young man’s slide into a terrible situation, his struggle to extricate himself from it raising questions of consciousness and compassion.

Young officer Hofmiller commits a faux pas at a soirée held by a Baron, unwittingly asking his paralysed daughter to dance. The mistake pulls him into a relentless train of events in this devastating depiction of honour, love and betrayal, realised against the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – a catalyst for the outbreak of the First World War.

Two of Europe’s most boundary-pushing, imaginative theatre companies work together at the Barbican for the first time. Their co-production is based on Stefan Zweig’s 1939 novel, written just before the Second World War but looking back to the verge of the previous disaster. Reverberating in the past and present, the story is relayed in German by seven actors, swapping narration and dialogue to vocally build the tension of McBurney’s orally rich, visually eloquent production.


Beware of Pity follows the five-star triumphs of The Encounter and The Forbidden Zone, the last shows presented here by Complicite and the Schaubühne respectively.

2 hours/no interval

Age guidance 12+

Performed in German with English surtitles


Live stream credits:

Co-produced by Complicite and the Schaubühne

Presented by the Barbican and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary

Live streaming presented in partnership with Goethe-Institut London