Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern ("The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents")

As a young girl Dora lived for years in a state of psychological semi-sleep under the influence of tranquillizers prescribed by her doctor and parents. These were intended to preserve Dora and those around her from the "otherness" which mainly received expression in wild and unontrollable erruptions of emotion, and to make a "normal" life possible for her. She can now even go out to work as an assistant in a greengrocer's shop where she was generously taken on by the boss. One day, at the mother's request, the medicines are discontinued. The mother would like to get to know her daughter's true personality. Dora wakes up from her artificially established obedience. She develops an enormous hunger for life, demonstrates her own will, and, above all, discovers her sexuality - to a degree which far exceeds adult ideas about how she should live. Dora thus gets involved with a passing perfume salesman who abuses and rapes her. The parents are indignant but for their daughter this seems to be a successful escape from over-protective surroundings. She no longer takes any notice of warnings and advice from the doctor, parents, and employer. She doesn't accept any constraints and in her naive and unrestrained opinions, uninhibitedly enjoying a lust for life, hits an apparently tolerant adult world where it is weakest. That delight in existence is not even destroyed when her parents finally get Dora to have an abortion and be sterilized in an act of ambiguous morality roclaiming belief that ethical responsibility demands intervention in their daughter's life.

Responses to the Play

"Lukas Bärfuss describes Dora's situation with objective brevity in scenes that reveal how much effort has been devoted to their shaping. He refrains from any discussion of the sensationalist aspects which could have predominated in this story. He doesn't take sides. He observes and demonstrates. He may observe with a slightly malicious satirist's eye for people in trouble, with his scenes always taking the most direct route to the crucial point, but he does not condemn. There's no place for edifying talk in this difficult situation. And it is this reserve which is the play's strength. Apart from Dora of course. He doesn't make her into a hero or a saint, and most certainly not a wretched victim. He does not impose himself as knowing better. He watches her from an almost shy distance. He is absolutely precise with regard to the details of her behaviour but does not overwhelm her with any authorial knowing better. So the mystery of her naivety and also of her indestructibility remains unaired. And that is beautiful as well as being right".
(Dorothee Hammerstein, Mülheim Theatre Days programme, 2003)

Technical Details

World premiere 13.2.2003, Theater Basel
Director Barbara Frey
German premiere 22.11.2003, Thalia Theater, Hamburg, and Stuttgart Staatstheater
Director Jorinde Dröse and Charlotte Koppenhöfer
Cast 3 women, 4 men. Changing set
Rights Hartmann und Stauffacher, Verlag für Bühne, Film, Funk und Fernsehen
Bismarckstrasse 36, D-50672 Köln
Tel.: 0221-485386, Fax: 0221-515402
Translations Theatre Library