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Die Frau von früher (i.e., “The Woman from the Past”) en

“The packing is done. A family is moving house. Frank, the father, will be working overseas and Claudia, his wife, is going with him as a matter of course. Their almost grown up son Andreas will also relocate with them and, like his parents, is leaving his previous life in the old world behind. He now has to part from Tina, his first great love.

Hope is in the air, hovering over mountains of boxes and luggage. And a sense of something coming to an end drifts through the emptied house, brushing past memories that have been sorted out and become meaningless.

Tina, who is soon to be abandoned, sees the matter realistically. In his mind, Andreas is already more there than here. Claudia takes a shower, Frank is thinking. Everything seems to be ready, to be done and dusted; life pauses for a moment, then they hear knocking...

Romy stands at the door. Romy is Frank’s past, forgotten many years ago. Romy Vogtländer was the father’s first great love. Long before Claudia and Frank got to know each other, married and started a family, long before Andreas was born.

Romy knows what happened and what is important to her. She loves Frank. She returns and urges Frank to recall his vow: I will always love you! Romy knows no mercy! Frank begins to lie, stutters: Could, should we really dare... to think? Everything is packed and all sorts of things could happen!”

(Burgtheater, Vienna)

Responses to the Play:

“A comedy, to begin with at any rate. One of those comedies about triangular relationships that have more to them than you think – and the very first and second scenes end with a slap in the face: the same slap in the same face. For the scenes repeat each other and are partly identical. At the end of the first scene, we find out what the wife thinks she heard in the bath because the action spools back ten minutes. The bell rings, knocking can be heard, and a woman stands at the front door reminding her husband of a summer they shared twenty four years earlier. […]

In retaliation for an unforgivable act of disloyalty, the woman from the past seduces the son of her forgetful lover – and then kills the father, the most unfaithful of the unfaithful, for the same reason. She then burns her rival alive, just as Medea once murdered Creusa. And it is as if Schimmelpfennig wanted the way he switches between times and generations to playfully legitimise his switches between theatrical genres. For the piece begins with situations that might be found in a light comedy, then scrapes past farce to become a revenge drama based on ancient models that features a number of set pieces drawn from Greek mythology, invoking, and simultaneously deconstructing, a belief in fate. A text that could hardly be more original.”

(Dietmar N. Schmidt, Mülheim Theatertage, Stücke 2005)

“Schimmelpfennig has come up with a simply complex plot. Based on the idea of Feydeau tipping over into tragedy. He is not afraid of improbabilities. He writes as if the absurd were normality, in which he is basically not so far from the truth. [...] The absolute collapses into absolute relativity.”

(Ulrich Weinzierl, “Die Welt”, 14.09.2004)

Technical Data

Premiere 12.09.2004, Burgtheater (Akademietheater), Wien
Director Stephan Müller
Cast 3 D, 2H
Rights S. Fischer Verlag GmbH
Theater und Medien
Hedderichstr. 144
60596 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. 069/ 60 62 339, Fax 069/ 60 62 335
Translations Theatre Library


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