New German dramatic art - Plays


In the early morning of the 30th of January, 1889, two shots rang out from the imperial hunting lodge at Mayerling near Vienna. In Crown Prince Rudolf's smoke-filled bed-chamber were found his lifeless body and the corpse of a Baroness Mary Vetsera.
Rudolph presumably first shot Mary and then himself. Emperor Franz Joseph lost no time in doing everything necessary to hush up his problem-son's final escapade, so the circumstances surrounding this act of desperation in the Vienna Woods remain obscure up to the present day.
(...) Franzobel's Rudolph is a dreamer who wants to run away to South America. He advocates strange theories ("The Moon is ice. Pure white ice"), and revels in fantasies of decline and downfall: "The Fin de siècle begins with me". At the end a Rudolph arisen from the dead - or awoken from a nightmare - speaks the final words: "We shall fly. We shall rise up and see the world as being very small, as it in fact is".
(Wolfgang Kralicek in Theater heute 07/01)

Responses to the Play

Making profound jokes out of the highest level of associations. Milking every cliché until it squeaks. Holding up the Hapsburgs' founding myths to the public as a mirror, pelting this mirror (or the public) with corny jokes, and persistently undermining any attempt at interpretation so that critics and German scholars break their necks to the delight of everyone else. Mayerling is roughly all of that. (...) Overall it's a wild burlesque, an entertaining Hapsburg revue, a farce, a folk-play. No more and no less. Franzobel has added nothing to the Hapsburg Mayerling myth, but he's absolutely right there. One is always a little bit perplexed by the Austrian swamp of myths and mysteries, but that perplexity is combatted here, and since time immemorial, in the same sometimes anarchically obscene and sometimes creative way: through self-mockery.
(Eva Menasse in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

His play "Mayerling. The Austrian Tragedy" is not a documentary piece or a historical drama. Franzobel merely uses the myth as the basis for a crazy Austrian burlesque, dazzling in its impact. No case is made and no secrets are revealed. Instead baroque delight in language and rough sarcasm are indulged to the full, making the Austrian soul seethe and bubble away in its dark corners. (...) Franzobel has devised grotesque Hapsburg pandemonium and coarsely sentimental farce - with randy lackeys, submissive lovers, and helpless tightrope-walkers through a world of dreams: both slapstick and poetic melancholy, written in the spirit of Nestroy and with the anarchic wit of a Hermanovsky Orlando.
(Christine Drössel, Mülheim Theatre Days programme)

Technical Details

Premiere Volkstheater Wien, June 2001
Director Thirza Bruncken
Cast 5 f, 5 m, walk-on parts
Rights Thomas Sessler Verlag
Bühnen- und Musikverlag
Johannesgasse 12
A-1010 Wien
Tel. 0043-1 512 32 84, Fax 0043-1 513 39 07
Translations Theatre Library