Besuch der alten Dame
Besuch der alten Dame
© SLT / Tobias Witzgall

The Visit

Friedrich Dürrenmatt

A tragic comedy

Premiere: 21. November 2024 / Kammerspiele


What is the price of betraying one’s moral principles? The billionaire Claire Zachanassian returns to her bankrupt hometown of Güllen, where she once left heartbroken and dishonoured. The people of Güllen are desperately hoping for some financial support from the town’s great daughter. She seems to be willing to comply – and offers one billion to the people of Güllen. Her only condition: Her former lover Alfred Ill must be punished by death for his wrongdoing. Amid much moral outrage, the offer is categorically rejected. At least at first…

In Dürrenmatt’s sinister “revenge tragedy comedy farce”, the former villain is transformed into a desperate victim, while the former victim becomes a ruthless villain. The entire community is held hostage in Dürrenmatt’s play: How corruptible is every one of us, how corruptible is our society? And at what price? How much does the life of an individual count for when compared to the benefit of all? Can retribution justify any deed? What is the difference between revenge and justice?

In the new stage adaptation presented by the Salzburg State Theatre, Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s successful play, which saw its world premiere in Zurich on 29 January 1956, is thickened into a blood-curdling thriller. Britta Bayer, who was recently distinguished with the title Kammerschauspielerin, plays Claire Zachanassian.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–1990) lived as a poet and painter in Neuchâtel. His literary oeuvre comprises novellas, essays, novels, radio plays and stage plays. He is considered one of the most important authors of the 20th century. He achieved renown with works such as the crime novel “The Judge and his Hangman” and rose to global fame with his stage plays “The Visit”, “The Physicists” and “The Meteor”.

Director Josua Rösing has staged productions at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, the Theater Regensburg, the Staatstheater Braunschweig, the Staatsschauspiel Dresden and the Theater Kiel, among other venues. He worked in St. Petersburg in 2017 and 2018 and at the Vachtangov Theatre in Moscow in 2019. Stage and costume designer Vanessa Habib, who has worked at the Munich Residenztheater, in Hanover and at the Theater für Niedersachsen, joins the team for her debut at the Salzburg State Theatre.