All He Fears - Howard Barker


20 pages


All He Fears

Howard Barker | 1993 | Brighton, Great Britain
Botius, Opina, The Man, The Rat, The Hooligans, Taxi, Prostitute, Another Botius, A Carter, The Horse, Pregnant Woman, Old Man, Baby
Number of acts

All He Fears is Howard Barker’s first puppet play. It was commissioned to him by the Movingstage Theatre Company for the Brighton Festival.

Barker was unfamiliar with puppet theatre and wrote the play as though it were a poem, without anticipating its staging.

Plot summary

A man is the victim of multiple acts of violence and cannot die

Botius – a philosopher – lives a happy life. He succumbs to despair and madness when his partner Opina leaves him for another man. He is then attacked by hooligans, who pull his eyes out. Police offices come to his aid, but they lead him near his mother’s skeleton.

He falls into a sort of grave and does not manage to escape. He tries to find reassurance in reminding himself that he still has the ability to think. Hooligans urinate on him, and he catches a glimpse of Opina’s legs, which are dangling.

A rope appears. He tries to haul himself out of the hole, but the rope only leads to a void. His head is cut in half and his brain explodes and spills all over the floor. His lookalike appears, then so does Opina. She kisses the lookalike and leaves with him. Hooligans are being carried on crosses, on which they are crucified upside down. Their wails torment Botius. He comes closer to them and realizes that they are dead.

A cart driver and a horse arrive. Botius calls out to the cart driver so that he may pick up his brain. The horse tears off one of the hooligans’ head and holds it by the hair between its teeth. They leave. Botius meets a pregnant woman and an old man. The couple begins to make love. A child walks up tentatively. The horse comes back and devours the child. Botius asks it to eat him too, to put an end to his misery, but the horse goes away. He concludes that his soul must be difficult to digest.

Composition date

First performance

Brighton, Great Britain, 24 May 1993 -

Brighton Festival

Publications and translations


Howard Barker, All He Fears, in Theatre of Animation: Contemporary Adult Puppet Plays in Context, Newark, NJ: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999.

Literary tones
Satirical, Black comedy
Animations techniques
String marionette
Not specified


Theatrical techniques




Written by

Cécile Decaix