One of the most startlingly original and devastating things I can ever remember seeing on a stage.
– Michael Feingold, The Village Voice
In 1938 Budapest, young American businessman Paul Green meets a Hungarian bureaucrat named Mr. Sandor, Sandor’s friend Mr. Kovacs, and Sandor’s daughter Eve. Paul and Eve soon fall in love, but a mysterious, creeping sickness begins to infect them and spreads throughout the whole city and possibly the whole world.
About The Production
In the year 2000 the now-defunct Infernal Bridegroom Productions (IBP) presented the Houston premiere of The Danube, one of most memorable productions of that company’s 14-year history. Catastrophic artistic director Jason Nodler, who founded IBP, teamed with Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre artistic director Joel Orr, to direct four of Houston’s finest actors (Amy Bruce, Troy Schulze, Charlie Scott, and Kyle Sturdivant). 15 years later Bruce, Schulze, Scott, Sturdivant, Orr, and Nodler reunite to create a new and improved version of this extraordinary play by one of the most intrepid playwrights of our modern era.
Of the Houston production The Houston Press wrote, “Especially gratifying are those moments when something shifts as the crowd is laughing, and everyone suddenly feels a little sick for having done so.”
About The Play
The play was inspired one afternoon in the early 1980s, as María Irene Fornés was walking past a thrift shop in Greenwich Village, New York when she noticed some strange old 78-rpm records in a bin. Liking the jacket of one of them, she bought it for a dollar. It turned out to be a series of basic Hungarian language lessons—simple phrases about everyday experiences like ordering in a restaurant or discussing the weather, spoken first in Hungarian then repeated in English. Taken with the endearing simplicity of the odd little conversations, she noted later: “I thought of how sorrowful I felt for the bygone era of that record and how sorrowful it would be to lose the simple pleasures of our own era.”
As Ross Wetzsteon put it in a classic Village Voice profile of Fornés, The Danube “gathers unutterable poignancy as the characters begin to deteriorate before our eyes. The play forces us to face what we’re making of our world, not through stylistic flair or nuanced characterization or polemical narrative, but solely through a strikingly theatrical formal concept.” By keeping the focus entirely on the minute details of the innocuous aspects of life lived in a harrowing, apocalyptic context, Fornés creates a theatrical tone poem that is at times sweetly innocent, dryly funny, and heartbreakingly sad.