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THE LIEBESTOD
© 1999 by Hugh Aaron
A 15-minute realistic one act drama in English

SETTING:
A private office in a big city, near the end of the work day, 2000

CHARACTERS:
S. H. Bronstein, age 58, CEO, a successful businessman
Loretta, age 25, a secretary
Taxi Driver (offstage voice), any age.

SYNOPSIS:
Bronstein, the CEO of his company, asks Loretta, an attractive recent employee and his secretary, to takes some notes in his office just before closing time. Trying to put her at ease, he inquires of Loretta's personal life and learns that she has recently separated from her husband who has mistreated her. His own marriage, as revealed during a phone call, is also unhappy.

He asks her to go out with him, but she hesitates because she feels they have nothing in common. He attempts to prove that they do, though it becomes more and more evident that they are worlds apart. Used to getting his way, Bronstein explains that he is really easy to be with, not so threatening due to his position as Loretta thinks. After finding things they have in common, such as art and music, he offers to set her up in an elegant apartment and a handsome life-style.

When she rejects his offer he warns her that her refusal could jeopardize her job. His uncontrollable passion aroused, he comes on to her aggressively, frightening her. A record of the Liebestod, the love death, is playing. Still in pain from her wrecked marriage, having no desire to become involved with anyone, she flees for her freedom. Realizing his error, his loneliness, his loss of youth, and his current undesirability, he takes comfort in knowing that at least his business needs him.

COMMENT:
All action takes place in one scene. The only change is oncoming darkness and the lights of office buildings appearing in the window behind Bronstein's desk. This short drama deals with the vulnerability of young women in a male-dominated world, specifically, a woman's need to be free of a destructive relationship. It also concerns a successful man's loss of youth. Powerful in business but devastated that he has lost his physical attractiveness, the protagonist seeks solace in all he has left, his business. The play's closing lines reveal this. Similarly, Bryan Singer, in directing the 1998 movie Apt Pupil, uses Wagner's Liebestod to underscore violence.

THEMES:
Age, aging, art, business, CEO, classical music, divorce, dominance, exploitation of women, generational conflict, infidelity, Liebestod, marital unhappiness, music, power, rock music, sexual harassment.


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