Midlife Crisis and Amateur Painting in the First District: Bettina Ernst and Rainer Galke play „Anderthalb Stunden zu spät“

Gérald Sibleyras exploits and makes fun of a distressing situation I am all too familiar with. There is an important event coming up, to which my partner or I have been looking forward for weeks. We need to leave the flat soon or otherwise we are going to be late. As every minute passes the tension rises, and either she or I —but more often I— start getting irritated at silly little things, like not finding the keys or turning off the lights. Suddenly an argument breaks out, which is about much more than just the keys or the lights, and we end up being at least half an hour late.

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Just before leaving for a dinner at a friends’ place in Döbling, Pierre (Rainer Galke) and Laurence (Bettina Ernst) plunge themselves into a discussion which becomes a thorough reassessment of their 25-year-old marriage. Laurence is undergoing a midlife crisis right after becoming a grandma and seeing her youngest son leave home for college. What will she do now that she’s got all her time for herself? Will her interest in painting be able to fill her days? What would have happened if Pierre had supported her in pursuing a professional career instead of just taking care of the household? Will they be able to stand each other all day long for the rest of their lives after he retires?

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The one-and-a-half-hour long dialogue is funny and nimble, and made me see relationship problems and life crises in a merrier light. However, at many points I found it difficult to relate to it due to the social background of the characters. Laurence and Pierre’s problems are the specific problems of a traditional middle-class heterosexual couple. Their anxiety is the purely existential anxiety of those who enjoy financial security, and, even though they are aware of their privilege, a great deal of their worries come across as petty. Furthermore, their reconciliation and the happy end is not entirely convincing. It is difficult to imagine that Pierre’s proposal of moving to their son’s room is enough to get Laurence out of her depressive mood and rescue their dying marriage.

Summary: Another comedy about a marriage in crisis, which is not that much of a crisis after all.


ANDERTHALB STUNDEN ZU SPÄT
von Gérald Sibleyras

Regie: Aurelina Bücher
Bühne: Monika Rovan
Kostüme: Nina Ball
Dramaturgie: Andrea Zaiser
mit Bettina Ernst und Rainer Galke

Foto: © http://www.lupispuma.com / Volkstheater

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