19 December 2019

Die Ehe der Maria Braun

It has been a year since I was last in the Schaubühne. So I opted to get myself a ticket and this time see a production of a theatre adaptation of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun). The original is a 1978 film, about the complex marriage of the title woman. And I must say I enjoyed this one quite a lot.

Let me talk about the plot first. Maria and Hermann Braun were getting married one day in the city hall, which was currently being hit by bombs. It was after all World War II. She and her husband spends a night and a day together, after which her husband had to immediately go back to the frontlines, as he was a soldier after all. The war comes and goes, but Hermann doesn't return, and Maria is told that he is dead. She then starts working in a bar and meets an American soldier who she starts sleeping with. Somehow, Hermann is apparently not dead, and walks in. A fight ensues, and Maria accidentally kills the soldier. When Maria was being interrogated, Hermann takes the blame for the killing, and is imprisoned.

Maria eventually learns how to survive in society. She still loves her husband who is in prison, yet she uses her skill and body to move up, eventually meeting Karl Oswald, a wealthy industrialist. They have an affair, and Karl loves her but she doesn't love him back. Karl learns that she has a husband in prison, so Karl makes him promise to desert Maria once he is released, and if he does that, he'll bestow half of his estate. So when Hermann is released, he goes to Canada.

Karl eventually dies. Hermann returns. Karl's lawyer eventually reveals that Maria gets half of Karl's estate, and Hermann the other half. This results in a bittersweet ending, where now both characters have so much money, yet they never had the time to enjoy it and each other along the way.

It's such a complicated story, and it is something that would make you think for a while.

Regarding the production, I also enjoyed it a lot. Yes, there was nudity on stage. But unlike the other theatre pieces I have seen, this was not confrontational. It was rather more on the humorous side. And I loved the scene transitions, which were very smoothly and swiftly done. And yes, the cast involved 4 men and one woman, and while the female actor only played one character, the four men were switching back and forth into different male and female characters. It was definitely very skilfully done.

The topic is a serious one, yet they nevertheless made some scenes rather funny, which allowed the tension to be diffused slightly.

Overall, I enjoyed this production, and it was definitely a memorable performance.

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