Die ganze Welt (The Whole World)

'When the guests do not come to the party, the party simply comes to the guests, whether they want it to or not. And Richard and Regina definitely do not want anything of the kind. Once, they used to celebrate wildly at length, travel a lot, go out often; today, hidden away in their large empty flat, they savour good food and seclusion alone as a couple. However, since the world has its own laws and people are damned to sociability, Richard and Regina suddenly find their neighbours, Dolf and Tina, standing in the doorway, armed with wine bottles and platters of schnitzels – the prelude to an anti-Strindbergian dance of death. With razor-sharp one-liners and a tremendous amount of fine detail, Theresia Walser and Karl-Heinz Ott observe what happens when a classic 'let's-talk-about-it' couple meet up with two passionate lovers of silence, when verbal exhibitionists encounter curmudgeons who hate company. Contrary lifestyles crash together, a conflict that is as comical as it is unsettling, but generates large quantities of frictional energy throughout as these passionate advocates of incompatible ways of being trade verbal blows that ultimately escalate into the physical.'
(Rowohlt Theaterverlag)
Responses to the play:
'Since Kurt Tucholsky and Loriot, at the latest, we have known men and women do not get on terribly well. The authorial team Theresia Walser and Karl-Heinz Ott take this insight one stage further: when one human meets another, disaster is preprogrammed. Of course, this is not exactly novel material, but in their current play The Whole World they deliver a rather original set of variations on the Who's-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf? battle zones, wetlands included. […]

Tina and Dolf break into Regina and Richard's mendaciously stolid reclusiveness, muddying the waters and opening the sluices of revelation. In this two-couple play, everything is crazy in a double sense. The characters' relationships, their constellations within the space of the stage, their monologues and dialogues – their language with its witty wordplay, platitudinous truths, little neologisms and ambiguities: everything seems out of joint. The characters' battered ambitions are reflected as if in a broken mirror: It is a play about the life-lies no one should have taken away from them, unless we wish to rob them of their last hope of happiness. It is therefore also a play about ideas of happiness, the inability to articulate feelings and the massive crash that comes when the naked truth can no longer be concealed.'
(Harald Raab, in Nachtkritik, 20.11.2010)

'They know each other too well to want to learn anything else about each other. And the world out there is a very long way away. "Once, we stopped being invited because we didn't go any more," says Regina. "Today we are invited again because people know we won't go," comments Richard.
In such dismissive, world-weary dialogues, Walser and Ott exhibit a pleasure in the musicality of sarcastic wordplay that is almost worthy of Thomas Bernhard. Here we have the domestic playground inhabited by their two hermit crabs. All of a sudden, though, Tina and Dolf are standing at the door, the proles from the flat below, people they really do not want anything to do with. Bearing schnitzels in Tupperware, the younger couple invade the pseudointellectual household, in which the doctor Regina cares for her husband and looks on with suffering pride as he labours away at a great piece of literature called The Whole World – which is also the title of the play.

We suspect the worst is yet to come. And indeed, a more-than-passing resemblance to the forces marshalled by Edward Albee in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? becomes apparent as soon as these people, armed as they are with all the tricks of discursive verbal acrobatics, confront their rather unsophisticated neighbours. Walser and Ott tackle that classic of all marital hells boldly, having their protagonists follow in the footsteps of Albee's Martha and George by making them play the invented-child game. In Regina and Richard's case, however, there were two fictive descendants who had to die in the bloom of youth. When Richard mentions the names of their imaginary offspring, Regina's innermost being is shattered. The couple's tragedy takes its course…'
(Jürgen Berger, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 26.11.2010)
Technical data:
Premiere 20 November 2010, Nationaltheater Mannheim
Director Burkhard Kosminski
Cast 2 F, 2 M
Rights Rowohlt Theaterverlag
Translations Theatre Library