Heinrich von Kleist's

Amphitryon

Directed by Frank Hoerner
Translated by Marion Sonnenfeld
Premiere 7th November 2004
St. James Cavalier Theatre

7, 8, 9; 15, 16; 21, 22, 23; 29, 30 November 2003 at St. James Cavalier, Theatre in the round. Bookings at 2122 3200 or boxoffice@sjcav.org

Amphitryon is at war and his wife Alkmene longingly awaits him. One night he appears unexpectedly and they spend a blissful night together. Alkmene is perfectly happy. She is just a little surprised as to why Amphitryon keeps on asking her to distinguish between husband and lover… For her he is both in one person and she is a bit hurt… She does not know that she had just spent her blissful night with Jupiter, the god, who came disguised as Amphitryon. Jupiter knew this was the only way to win Alkmene. But, vain as he is, he can’t bear the thought that she did not realise he wasn’t her husband!! Amphitryon comes home the next day after a long time at war and is not amused when Alkmene welcomes him: You are back so soon??

Sosias, Amphitryon’s servant, is on his way to see his wife Charis, but something weird happens to him: a stranger won’t let him pass and claims he is Sosias himself. The stranger knows all his secrets and is Mercury, Jupiter’s messenger, who has to spend a night with Charis against his will. He provokes a clash to avoid any tender physical approach…

Sosias doesn’t understand why he’s been shouted at when he finally arrives at home.
Confusion develops. The mortals doubt their own existence and in the end Alkmene has to decide at a public hearing which of the two men is Amphitryon, her husband.

It is a play about lost identities, wishful thinking and illusions. Kleist wrote a tragic comedy… a beautiful piece of world literature.

Heinrich von Kleist (1777 – 1811) was a poet, novelist and playwright of the German Romantic period. He is one of the German giants of literature together with Schiller and Goethe. Well known plays besides ‘Amphitryon’ (original:by Plautus), include Prince of Homburg’, ‘The Broken Jug’ and the novella ‘Michael Kohlhaas’.


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