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The Last Night in September

George Tabori's 10th production to be presented under the umbrella of Vienna's state theaters, "The Last Night in September" is made up of three slight one-acts that visit the Hungarian-born playwright's favorite topics: food, death and anti-Semitism. A thin device --- a bust of Shakespeare that is ceremoniously carried from one set to the next --- links the plays. In the first, and longest, one-act, a sick, elderly man (Otto Tausig) prepares for his death with the assistance of his charmingly drunk wife, Bee (Kitty Speiser). Bee invites Ernst's ex-wife, an opera singer who's been transformed via a sex-change operation from Esmeralda to Esme (Peter Matic), to share a final meal. After ample opportunity for displays of Tabori's anecdotal humor, the play ends quickly when a stagehand strikes the set with the words, "No one dies in the theater."

With:
Cast: Kitty Speiser, Ute Springer, Peter Matic, Otto Tausig, Peter Wolfsberger.

The second one-act moves into darker territory. The petty squabble of two patrons in a Vienna cafe is interrupted by a starving “foreigner” dressed as a concentration camp prisoner (Ute Springer). The combination of Nazi-era and contemporary elements is a reminder of how deeply ingrained intolerance remains in Austria.

Final one-act has Shakespeare (Matic) involved with a dreadful acting company, the play serving as a writer’s ultimate revenge on actors. At the final curtain, when no applause comes and the thesps take their bows to an empty house (a painted mirror image of the Akademietheatre), Othello finds it’s the perfect opportunity to enumerate to the author the many flaws in his characters. The defeated playwright hands over his final script, “The Tempest,” to the actor, who asks eagerly, “Is there a role in it for me?” Answer: “I fear so.”

The octogenarian Tabori appears to be writing his farewell to the theater in his latest work. A pity that he uses Shakespeare’s lines to end this play.

The Last Night in September

VIENNA

Production: An Akademietheatre production of three one-act plays written and directed by George Tabori. Sets, Paul Lerchbaumer

Creative: ; costumes, Margit Koppendorfer; music, Hansgeorg Koch. Opened Jan. 10, 1997, at the Akademietheatre. Reviewed Feb. 10; 496 seats; 500 schillings ($43) top. Running time: 1 HOUR, 40 MIN.

Cast: Cast: Kitty Speiser, Ute Springer, Peter Matic, Otto Tausig, Peter Wolfsberger.

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