(Morality) by Ludwig Thoma.
   Premiered 1908. As the title implies, Thoma's enormously popular comedy is about morals, or at least about moralistic attitudes in public life. It opens with a speech by a political candidate who leads an organization to fight prostitution, pornography, and other forms of public vice—but his speech is interrupted by news that police have arrested a local madam whom both candidate and his supporters know very well. She has kept a record of her customers, and at the police station she proves a match for her interlocutors. The aforementioned candidate tries to convince the police to drop charges against her on the pretext that "too many of the better people in the town might become involved." The chief is mystified, since he assumed the candidate would congratulate him and press for Mme. de Hauteville's prosecution. In a moment when the police chief is distracted by a telephone call, the candidate steals the madam's account ledger from the office. The phone call, however, was from the prime minister, who says that a prominent aristocrat was hiding in the whorehouse closet when police arrived. If the lady goes to trial, she threatens to reveal everything she knows. The police chief offers an abject apology to the prime minister for the efficiency of his department in fighting vice and promises to raise hush money to keep the whole affair quiet. The action returns to the candidate's house in the final act, where he has found his name on every other page of the ledger. He additionally fears he will be arrested for theft of evidence. When the police show up, he nearly has a heart attack, but they inform him of their need to raise hush money and to refurbish the whorehouse as the madam has requested. The candidate promises the cooperation of his antivice society in the interest of family values and preserving social order. The police chief assures him that the prime minister will award him a medal for his efforts in fighting vice.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.


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