You would never in a million years describe the plays of German writer Franz Xaver Kroetz as all singing and all dancing. In fact, often very little actually happens. But while they may be short on plot they are epic in the way they examine the ordinary lives of people pushed to the brink by the forces of capitalism and society over which they have little control. In great productions they have a quiet power and tension that grows to snapping point. In what is proving to be a great 50th anniversary for the Orange Tree, Diyan Zora, the 2021 winner of the Genesis Future Directors Award, tackles Kroetz’s brilliant 1978 play about a semi-skilled factory worker whose family life implodes under pressure.
Every night Martha listens to the minute details of husband Otto’s day at the factory. He’s a man with big dreams, stuck in a job where he feels like a cog in the machine. Their teenage son Ludwig just wishes he had a job, or at least his own space, far far away from his parents. They are each frustrated with a life they can’t seem to escape. When money goes missing, a family on the brink hurtles over the edge, and Martha has to decide whether she will stay to pick up the pieces. A dark and unnervingly funny play about how capitalism creeps into the minutiae of one family’s life, just at the moment women started to change the rules of the game. Franz Xaver Kroetz, Germany’s most frequently performed playwright, is the author of over 60 plays including The Nest, Through the Leaves and Request Concert. Director Diyan Zora was the winner of the 2021 Genesis Future Directors Award, directing Klippies by Jessica Sian at the Young Vic Theatre, and worked with Alexander Zeldin as an Associate Director on his plays Faith, Hope and Charity and Love at the National Theatre.