Die Verbrecher

Ferdinand Bruckner

Richard Brunel performs a real coup. The score is clever, enthusing, constantly shifting and carries genuine energy. Excellent actors, a musical composition that exquisitely embraces the images depicted on stage and this exceptionally brutal text come together beautifully in this three-hour performance, whose captivating power and intensity never dwindle.

Revue 491, Etienne Faye

There is something fascinating and flawlessly mastered in this show. A thought-provoking must-see that you should see again. (…) Lastly, it should be stressed that this very serious play and its on-stage adaptation trigger a rare dramatic elation.

Armelle Heliot, Le Figaro

Richard Brunel has managed to capture the teeming energy of that rich and tumultuous play (…). His work is remarkable in all aspects and keeps the spectators on the edge of their seats throughout the show, allowing them to (re)discover the modernity and power of this author – a wonderful tribute to Bruckner.

Marie-José Sirach, L’Humanité

One of the most striking shows we have had the privilege to see in a long time.

Jacques Nerson, Valeurs actuelles

Richard Brunel’s last creation, Les Criminels, proves to be particularly ingenious. He directs his actors with purpose and precision as they superbly embrace their role as wrecked human beings. The play resonates frighteningly.

Claire Chazal, Version Femina

The Théâtre de la Colline is shocked and awed! We are won over by the originality of Les Criminels from the very first lines exchanged on stage. (…) The director of the Comédie de Valence, Richard Brunel, masterfully orchestrates this impressive socio-political opera. He directs his performers with extreme care, as each of the thirteen actors incarnates several different characters. The company is skilled and works as a coherent whole, dominated by an irresistible Claude Duparfait in his role as a naïve gigolo and the smouldering Angélique Clairand as a love-crazed cook. Each performer gets their own little piece of heroism. The three hours fly by and we exit the theatre dazzled by the poignancy of this human bedlam. Bruckner’s theatre exposes a world where everything seems to go wrong, and when this dark carrousel finally grinds to a halt, we’re left with this nagging doubt – aren’t we all criminals?

Philippe Chevilley, Les échos

Brunel’s first and foremost contribution to this epic saga is gracing it with some legibility. Everything is made clear and we quickly get attached to these heart-breaking characters. (…) Very few plays deal so aptly with questions of instability (financial and emotional), culpability, even in the face of innocence, or justice, both social and legal. (…) This impressive portrait gallery is painted by a dozen brilliant performers. (…) A triumph.

La Tribune de Lyon, Luc Hernandez

Les Criminels is a true epic and burns like wildfire on Richard Brunel’s outstanding stage. (…) Brunel does not attempt to conceal the immense pleasure he obviously took in staging this deliciously cruel and cynical piece, making the entire theatre his personal darkroom. (…) The delight we feel watching Les Criminels is the same we feel before Broch’s Die Schuldlosen or Snchnitzler’s Reigen. With its gallery of prosecutors, judges and lawyers, the beautiful trial scene becomes an exercise in philosophy.

La Terrasse, Véronique Hotte

Many thanks to Richard Brunel, first for having unearthed this masterpiece of a play, and then for having directed it with such insight.

Jacques Nerson, Télé Ciné Obs

A superb play about justice. Richard Brunel signs here one of his best creations, a show imbued with a remarkable and implacable dramatic energy, beautifully poetic, gloriously soulful and extraordinarily deep.

Le progrès, Antonio Mafra

This vivid and deeply political text resonates with us and we thank Richard Brunel, appointed  head of the Comédie de Valence last year, for presenting us with a new translation of this work (…). The revolving stage cleverly captures the abundance and simultaneity of life on display here – nothing is ever still or stable and characters are forever unsure of what the future holds.

Télérama, Emmanuelle Bouchez

The mechanical set-up, made of two revolving panels acting as screens and compartmentalizing the building into different “life chambers”, actively participates to both the clarity and fluidity of the plot. (…) This play is positively dripping with contemporary relevance and is a must-see for whoever wants to (re)think the very concept of justice in all its aspects – social, societal and metaphysical. Les Criminels is certainly a high point of this season and opens a decidedly political and fascinating programme at the Comédie de Valence.


Die Verbrecher (Criminals)
Ferdinand Bruckner

French translation Laurent Muhleisen
Director Richard Brunel
Set designer Anouk Dell’Aiera
Costume designer Benjamin Moreau
Lighting designer David Debrinay
Sound designer Antoine Richard
Dramaturg Catherine Ailloud-Nicolas
Assistant director Caroline Guiela Nguyen
Movement director Thierry ThieÛ Niang

Produced by Comédie de Valence – CDN DrÔme-Ardèche
Coproduced by CDDB Théâtre de Lorient – CDN, La Comédie de Saint-Étienne – CDN, ThÉâtre du Nord – Théâtre national Lille Tourcoing, with the artistic participation of the Jeune Théâtre National and the support of the Rhône-Alpes region for the integration of local young artists (young actors from the École de la Comédie de Saint-Étienne).


Cécile Bournay,
Angélique Clairand,
Clément Clavel,
Murielle Colvez,
Claude Duparfait,
François Font,
Mathieu Genet,
Marie Kauffmann,
Martin Kipfer,
Valérie Larroque,
Sava Lolov,
Claire Rappin,
Laurence Roy,
Thibault Vinçon
With the participation of Nicolas Hénault and Gilbert Morel