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Das Kalte Kind ("The Cold Child")en

Nina is the "cold child" of Silke and Werner who proclaim interest in their friends' sex lives and emotional entanglements without themselves being able to express any participatory feelings. This couple is the epitome of 'decent' people because their inseparable partnership is based on mutual hatred. Their 'child' freezes in the pram; it's a stillborn child frozen with cold, or also just a doll whose arms and legs can be broken and thrown away.
For their friend Johann all women make him puke; they always remind Johann of someone, primarily Melanie, who dumped him. However now, thanks to his friends, he's sticking with Lena, an Egyptologist who fantasizes about being raped. He sometimes loses the plot so Johann decides to become Lena's pitiless 'saviour' and husband. To the great delight of Daddy and Mummy (who hates Lena) a marriage takes place, and little sister Tine, now alone in being at the mercy of the parental mania not to miss out on anything, in her need catches Henning, an exhibitionist ... Mayenburg's three couples - Silke and Werner, Johann and Lena, and Tine and Henning - plus Daddy and Mummy form a libertine family grouping which to begin with romps together on the club scene at the "Polygamy Café". Then this bunch of eight gets really worked up amid the perversities accompanying the marriage of Johann and Lena only to succumb to a festival of long knives during the burial of Daddy's ashes after a heart attack in Singapore where he had hoped for the ultimate kick".
(Klaus Völker, Mülheim Theatre Days programme, 2003)

Responses to the Play

With his 'Cold Child' Schaubühne author Marius von Mayenburg goes beyond the restricted core of his earlier plays. Like Roland Schimmelpfennig ... he now reaches further afield, works on social tableaus, and wants to present farce on a large scale. That brings him to the very early moderns, to Alfred Jarry's 'Ubu' and also to the young Brecht. We experience the sexual boasting and desperate need of characters hopelessly trapped in their own delusions ... Schimmelpfennig is the poet, von Mayenburg the surgeon".
(Rüdiger Schaper, Der Tagesspiegel, 9.12.2002)

"Just as social utopian Charles Fourier once distinguished between three kinds of love - érotisme, familisme, amitié -- , the 30 year-old Mayenburg declines his farce through three cases of hatred inclusive of flowing transitions. His debut drama "Feuergesicht" ("Fire-Face") already treated the fact that this most binding of all passions occurs in the best families. In the 'Cold Child' he now extends his attention to the realms of friendship and eroticism. The almost fateful meetings of all the characters in 'Polygamy Café' and the following stages of marriage and funeral signal a deeply bourgeois and normally contemporary narcissistic milieu, and thus a target for humour ranging from the absurd to the malicious ... Von Mayenburg skilfully weaves together diverse and almost simultaneous verbal clashes, interspersing them with cooly observed inner monologues, and also adds bloody visions and sombre nightmares where one can never be quite sure whether these may after all be real terrors and genuinely repulsive behaviour".
(Eva Behrendt, Theater heute, 01/2003)

Technical Details

Premiere 7.12.2002, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
Director Luk Perceval
Cast 4 men, 4 women. Changing set
Rights henschel SCHAUSPIEL Theater-Verlag Berlin GmbH
Marienburger Straße 28
10405 Berlin
Tel: 030/4431-8888, Fax: 030/4431-8877
verlag@henschel-theater.de
Translations Flemish, Danish, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Hungarian, Russian

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