(Jane Coyle’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 10/10.)

A good man commits a bad deed for a good reason then ends up paying what threatens to be the ultimate price. This is the top line of Franz Xaver Kroetz’s play, set in 1970s Germany, in which Kurt and Martha are a young couple on the brink of parenthood. Heavily pregnant and exhausted, Martha regularly works until late evening, making endless cold calls for a survey on banking practices. Kurt is a lorry driver, obsessed with providing for his family and desperate to do just about anything if there is lucrative overtime pay in it. These are the small forgotten people, struggling to keep their heads above water.

When they start totting up the price of buggies and bottle warmers, it becomes clear that their household budget is about to be stretched beyond bursting point. The universality of the original storyline and the fearless contextualising of Conor McPherson’s new translation are a stark reminder that there is nothing novel about a society contaminating itself from within.

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Photo: UK Independent.


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