Published: 23 Aug 1973
In The Visit (original title Der Besuch der alten Dame), Claire Zachanassian, now a multimillion heiress and an older woman, returns to the impoverished town of her youth with a dreadful bargain: in exchange for returning the town to prosperity through her vast wealth, she wants the townspeople to kill the man who jilted her. From its subtle exploration of parochial politics to its horrific climax, The Visit shows a population willing to sacrifice loyalty and scruples in the pursuit of riches. It is a drama of the absurd that reduces human nature to its most ridiculous depths.
Durrenmatt was one of the most important figures of modern European drama and The Visit remains both a powerful critique of twentieth century civilisation and an outstanding piece of experimental theatre.