For a long time the far right hid in the shadows. Now it no longer needs to. Schimmelpfennings new play looks at the seductive re-emergance of fascism from the German perspectiveone that few can share with such unique dread.
Five people gather on Christmas Eve in a bourgeois, intellectual household. Albert, a writer, is engaged in a ferocious spat with his wife Bettina, a film-maker, over the arrival of her mother, Corinna. But it is Corinna who sparks the dramatic crisis by inviting a man she met on the train, Rudolph, to stay with the family. Rudolph is urbane, civilized, and politethe essence of cosmopolitan charm. He entertains everyone by playing Chopin and Bach on the piano, but when he reveals that he is a doctor with Paraguayan connections, we realize that he is the silken embodiment of a Nazi past Germany has long thought buried. The US premiere of this transfixing new work from acclaimed German playwright Roland Schimmelpfenig powerfully demonstrates the unnerving logic of the new right and the seeming impotence of liberalism to combat it. Highly cinematic in style, naturalistic and surrealistic by turns, combining live cameras with onstage action, the play exerts the same hypnotic spell as its menacing visitoran insidiousness that makes him, in Schimmelpfennigs eyes, a lethal threat.
The timing is perfect. The idea that we show hospitality to our destroyers is as old as drama itself.Schimmelpfennig, in portraying the failure of liberal intellectuals to confront the hideous legacy of the past, has written a potent play for today.
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