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The Visit

The Visit
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Friedrich Durrenmatt
Adapted by: Maurice Valency
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 115
Pub. Date: 1958
ISBN-10: 0573617546
ISBN-13: 9780573617546
Cast Size: 8 female, 9 male (doubling)

About the Play:

Winner of the Best Foreign Play by New York Drama Critics Circle

The Visit is a full-length drama adapted by Maurice Valency from the acclaimed drama by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The dark story of wealthy woman who returns to her poverty-stricken hometown. She promises a sum of money so vast it will return the town to its former glory days – on one condition: The townspeople must kill the man who wronged her in her youth. The Visit asks how far the town will go to save itself. Especially recommended for school and contest use.

The Visit is a classic masterpiece that hinges on an immoral choice made for financial gain. A rich, oft-married widow returns to her her debt ridden hometown in central Europe and makes an offer that the townspeople can't refuse. She offers a sum greater than they have ever imagined. But there is a condition: she wants the life of the man who seduced and abandoned her years ago and is now the town's most respected citizen. Ringing denial of this absurd demand is followed by the gradual corruption of everyone in town. He is murdered and money is passed over his body to the town. The vengeful lady leaves with a fantastic entourage and with the coffin of her old lover. The Visit explores societal issues around human nature and the human connections we sell out on in the face of financial gain and social advancement.

Der Besuch der alten Dame ("The Visit of the Old Lady") premiered in Zurich, Switzerland in 1956, when Friedrich Durrenmatt was 35. It was such a success that productions (now with the shortened title, The Visit) sprang up in England and America over the next two years. The Visit adapted by Maurice Valency premiered in 1958 on Broadway at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and won Best Foreign Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Considered a modern classic, the show enjoyed 3 Broadway revivals and has become a staple of college, high school, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 5 female, 25 male, 2 girl(s) or boy(s) (alternate casting 8 female, 9 male with doubling)

What people say:

"The Visit stands revealed as a small masterpiece of misanthropy, a play whose cynicism is so thickly layered that the greed driving the plot at its surface seems almost the least of its characters' sins. For Durrenmatt, people, not money, are the root of all evil ... the dialogue in Maurice Valency's English adaptation, offers savage counterpoint to the action." — The New York Times

"Stinging...[with] astonishing power." — The New York Herald Tribune

"A devastating drama." — The New York Times

About the Playwright:

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990) was a leading post-war Swiss author and dramatist. He was a proponent of epic theatre whose plays reflected the recent experiences of World War II. The politically active author's work included avant-garde dramas, philosophically deep crime novels, and often macabre satire. Dürrenmatt was a member of the Gruppe Olten.

Maurice Valency (1903-1996) was an American playwright, author, critic, and popular professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, best known for his award winning adaptation of The Visit. He also wrote television plays, adaptations of librettos, novels, and academic works on Chekhov, Strindberg, Ibsen and Shaw.

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