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The Dance of Death (play): Wikis


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The Dance of Death (Dödsdansen) is a play in two parts written by August Strindberg in 1900.



In Part I, Edgar (the Captain) and his wife Alice live in a granite fortress on a desolate island. Bored and embittered, they torment each other with petty intrigues and well-worn accusations. When Kurt, an old friend and Alice's cousin, arrives to visit, they draw him into their vicious marital games.

In Part II, Edgar continues to weave his malicious plots, but his daughter Judith eventually spoils his plans.

Part I is frequently performed on its own, under the title The Dance of Death. Part II is rarely performed.


Characters (part I)

  • Edgar, captain
  • Alice, his wife, former actress
  • Kurt
  • Jenny
  • The Old Woman
  • The Watch (mute)

Characters (part II)

  • Edgar
  • Alice
  • Kurt
  • Allan, his son
  • Judith, daughter of Edgar and Alice
  • The Lieutenant

Influences and echoes

In its unsentimental, sometimes bleakly humorous treatment of a marriage gone diabolic, The Dance of Death looks forward to other contemporary dramatic treatments of matrimony. In Play Strindberg, Friedrich Dürrenmatt condensed Part I of Strindberg's play into a terse, brutal series of boxing rounds, without any of the hopes for salvation to be found in the earlier play. In its presentation of marital dysfunction, claustrophobic atmosphere and rounds of "Get the Guests" Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is highly reminiscent of The Dance of Death, as is Harry Kondoleon's sparring match between angry and spiritually despairing couples, The Houseguests. John Guare credited a production of Strindberg's play at the Royal National Theatre as an influence on his play The House of Blue Leaves.

Some notable productions


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