New German dramatic art - Plays

Frey !

Friedemann Frey is not really a man for capricious decisions and impulsive actions. On the contrary: This unobtrusive clerical officer is viewed by his family, friends and colleagues as a well balanced fellow who can always be relied on. It is all the more puzzling when Frey fails to return home to his family’s terraced house one day, as is his habit, but sets off into the wide world. He wanders apparently aimlessly in a southerly direction and finds the silence of solitude in the seclusion of the mountains, although he soon swaps it for the hustle and bustle of society. He takes a cruise ship to America, the land of unlimited possibilities. On the way, Frey becomes acquainted with the luxury problems of bored, well heeled ladies, hears a disconcertingly inspiring tale of abuse and, very much in passing, learns all sorts of worthwhile things about sadomasochistic desires and how to satisfy them. Having arrived in New York, he falls in with an ex-con who has a penchant for quoting Heidegger, then travels to Las Vegas, where a receptionist well versed in suicide techniques believes he has the look of a classic suicide…
In this episodic theatrical peregrination, Neumann tells a modern fairy tale, in which – between opportunity and obligation, temptation and deception – ‘freedom’ proves to be a modern fetish.
(Gustav Kiepenheuer Bühnenvertrieb)

Responses to the Play:

‘In Frey!, Neumann revives the picaresque novel – his texts are episodic and prosaic in any case, with tremendous amounts of action narrated at breakneck pace. Here, he sends his clowning, Chaplinesque protagonist, “Friedemann Frey, clerical officer with a prestigious German insurance company”, on his travels as if he were Simplicissimus, the eponymous hero of Grimmelshausen’s great novel of the Thirty Years War: Caught in an existential trap between the insurance company office, his bog-standard family and the bowling alley, Frey is overcome one day by a panicky fear he is just about to miss out on something big.
He makes his escape and stumbles, aimless, passive and astonished, through the world like Alice in Wonderland. […]
Neumann makes use of an old theatrical trick to impose an ending on the overflowing abundance of his material: Frey wakes up sitting at his computer, and “statistics and tables glow in front of him.” It was all a dream, he never lived through any of it. The circle closes. His search for meaning can begin again from square one.’

(Verena Großkreutz: Nachtkritik, 17 November 2011)

Technical Data

Premiere 17 December 2011, Staatstheater Stuttgart
Director Jan Neumann
Cast 2 female, 3 male
Rights Gustav Kiepenheuer Bühnenvertrieb
Schweinfurthstr. 60
14195 Berlin
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Translations Theatre Library