Schnitzler isn’t a great playwright, but he’s sharp, fascinating, and worth our time. In league with Chekhov and Freud, he’s another turn-of-the-century doctor (the 19th to 20th variety) who saw a corrupt world and gave it back to us with poison and a smile. He was a sophisticate who knew all the secrets and got a kick out of most of them, especially the bad ones. Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut is an updating of Schnitzler’s novella Dream Story and the movie’s best moments catch the frosty morality at play in his work.
And despite Cutting Ball’s many content warnings, there is a distant morality present in La Ronde, though not one that would ever announce itself as such. The play is a series of sexual liaisons: A hooks up with B; B hooks up with C; C hooks up with D and so on until, say about, ten letters in when we return to A all over again, each coupling a failure if you believe in happily ever after or even a week or two of fun. Everything is distant, including Schnitzler’s judgments, and his accusations of social and personal hypocrisy come in whispers and jokes. You have to sidle up to him and you never know if you’re going to get a gentle hand on the shoulder or a punch to the face. And that’s all part of the fun.Read More