The Gardens of Frau Hess
Milton Frederick Marcus
1 man, 1 woman: 2 total
"…prompts thought and generates tension." —NY Times. "…compelling, provocative…a fascinating play…" —NYTheatre.com.
Book/Item: THE GARDENS OF FRAU HESS
Book Type: DPS
FEE: $75 per performance.
THE STORY: Germany, 1944. Isaac Baum, former professor of botany, has been sent from a concentration camp to the home of Frau Ilse Hess to be her gardener. Frau Hess, the aristocratic, elegant wife of the former Deputy Führer, Rudolph Hess, who was incarcerated in Britain after his unauthorized flight there, had requested a new gardener when hers was drafted. Several candidates with botanical experience, identities unknown, were sent to her home, on approval, one at a time. This is the true incident that informs this play. It is about two uniquely antithetical characters, a man and woman in complete cultural, religious and historical opposition, thrust together in a surprisingly seductive relationship. Frau Hess, the once proud figure of the upper-class social and political order of Germany now lives in the diminished state of her husband's exile. She deplores the lower-class Nazi hierarchy that has caused her fall and dreams of a resurgence. She is not what she appears or what we expect. When Isaac Baum enters her life, her racial and religious bigotry appears merely a class affectation, and soon her cold detachment turns into a warm and extremely intimate nature. Isaac Baum, who seems at first the downtrodden victim of Nazi persecution, ultimately reveals his true nature as the proud, conflicted Jew who renounced his identity in order to be a part of her world. As their relationship deepens, Frau Hess offers to help Isaac find his daughter, and Isaac ultimately professes his tortured desire and love for her. The final seduction, a climactic dans macabre, reveals and illuminates the true psyches and souls of these two most passionate antagonists.