A party for Boris/ Thomas Bernhard


A Party for Boris is a play in three acts, which contains two prologues and the main part, "the party". Not much happens in each of the acts. The setting is an empty room in the house of the main character: The wealthy Good Woman, who has lost her husband and legs in a car accident and now sits in a wheelchair. She bosses her housemaid Johanna around the house, and continuously humiliates and verbally abuses her: "Your lack of consideration / Your abnormal personality / ... ".
Up to the end of the first prologue, The Good Woman tries on long gloves, red, green, yellow, but above all white and black ones, and large hats in the same colours. Johanna assists her. The Good Woman delivers a long monologue while she is trying on the gloves and hats. She pities herself and her legless condition.

The second prologue takes place after a masked ball, which The Good Woman attended as a queen and Johanna as a pig. When The Good Woman notices that Johanna has taken off her mask she forces her to put it back on. As The Good Woman comments on the masked ball she also mentions Boris, who she has recently married to keep herself from being lonely. She chose Boris, who is also legless, from the cripple asylum. Boris doesn’t speak to The Good Woman but asks continuously for Johanna instead.  The Good Woman: "He is asking for you / Not for me / For you / For you he is asking / ...". This prologue is alarming, and the daunting atmosphere is reinforced by the fact that The Good Woman leaves her husband screaming on his own in the adjoining room for a while: "You mustn’t go and collect him / Not before I have given you permission / Wait / Listen / ..."
At the end of the second prologue The Good Woman suddenly screams at Johanna and orders her to take off her mask: "Take your mask off / Take off your mask".

The birthday party for Boris is the main part of the play.  All ”cripples” from the asylum are invited. All of them are legless and even Johanna has to keep her legs hidden during the evening. The “cripples” talk and laugh about their nightmares. The mood becomes more sombre when the “cripples” mention their beds, which they refer to as boxes since they are not long enough. Old Cripple: "There are many methods / To make one’s life in the box more bearable / Karl Ernst often sleeps standing upright / ..." The Good Woman promises to campaign with the asylum director for longer beds. But the beds are only the beginning of a series of complaints. The “cripples” also complain about the poor, miserable care they receive from the doctors and nurses,  the terrible food and the appalling conditions in the cripple asylum. Boris fuels the atmosphere with increasingly louder and faster beats on a drum, which was given to him as a birthday present. The “cripples” talk about heir methods to make their lives in the asylum more bearable.

When everybody is tired and thanks the host for the food, Johanna makes a surprising discovery.