Friedrich DürrenmattThe Visit
(Der Besuch der alten Dame)Premiere 23. September 2010
This performance doesn't have any called terms at the moment.
The inhabitants of an impoverished town eagerly await a high-level visit: one of the wealthiest local women who – once desperately poor – left town years ago and went into the wide world. The mayor and the townspeople sincerely hope that their Claire will bring fresh capital to the town to restart the abandoned factories and thus encourage economic growth. Her former lover, Alfred Ill, now father of two grown-up children, also anticipates her arrival: he is a merchant who has fallen on rough times, as a result of his fellow townspeople’s destitution.
Claire arrives in the company of her seventh husband and her large entourage. She and her former lover impatiently visit all the hidden spots where they used to give in to pleasure when they were young, and at the end she makes an offer: she will donate several millions to the mayor and the city if they kill Alfred Ill and correct the injustice he has done. Claire has not forgotten that she had to leave town, shamed and humiliated, because her valiant lover wouldn’t admit paternity, but rather paid witnesses to testify in his favour in court. At first, the mayor and the citizens indignantly refuse her offer, so Claire settles in a hotel and waits. Soon, townspeople start taking out loans and buying goods, so Alfred Ill, who knows that they are silently counting on him to die, seeks protection, but in vain – after all, nobody is physically threatening him. Or are they?
A tragic comedy from 1956, which will provide the first opportunity for the late Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt to speak from our stage, spares no one, it mercilessly whips all social classes and all branches of the governments, and the sharpness and the topicality of its narrative prove that it is a work for the 21st century.