By Ferenc Molnár
Performed in German
Liliom is a 1909 play by the Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár. It was very famous in its own right during the early to mid-20th century, but is best known today as the basis for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.
The play takes place partly in Budapest, Hungary, and partly in a waiting area just outside Heaven. The story concerns Liliom, a tough, cocky carousel barker who falls in love with Julie, a young woman who works as a maid. When both lose their jobs, Liliom begins mistreating Julie out of bitterness — even slapping her once — although he loves her. When she discovers she is pregnant, he is deliriously happy, but, unbeknownst to Julie, he agrees to participate with his friend Ficsur, a criminal, in a hold-up to obtain money to provide for the child. Liliom is unwilling to leave Julie and return to his jealous former employer, the carousel owner Mrs. Muskat, and feels that the robbery is his only way left to obtain financial security. The hold-up is a disaster, but Ficsur escapes, and Liliom kills himself to avoid capture. He is sent to a fiery place, presumably Purgatory. Sixteen years later, he is allowed to return to Earth for one day to do a good deed for his now teenage daughter, Louise, whom he has never met. If he succeeds, he will be allowed to enter Heaven. He fails in the attempt, and is presumably sent to Hell. The ending, though, focuses on Julie, who obviously remembers Liliom fondly.
A contrasting subplot involves Julie's best friend, Marie, and Wolf Beifeld, a rather pompous hotel porter who marries Marie and finally becomes the wealthy owner of the hotel at which he once worked. The two eventually have seven children, who never appear onstage in Molnár's play. There is also a Carpenter in Liliom who is in unrequited love with Julie, and who, in contrast to Liliom, has a stable job.
OPENS: 15 June 2018