Douglas Braverman's Dalliance in Vienna is a new play set in 1901. Here are some moments from the Genesius Theatre Guild's production of the comedy, directed by Thomas Morrissey. As the action begins, the foolish blowhard Captain Johann von Bommel (Thomas James O'Leary) is obsessed with attaining a military promotion and takes his anxiety out on his sweet young wife, Kristina (Emily Strang).
The household maid, Frau Kessler (Melinda Tanner), is Kristina's confidante.
Three of Johann's fellow captains arrive as houseguests. Seen here toasting their hostess, they are (left to right): Maximilian von Zerneck (Ian Tomaschik), Dieter von Heidendorff (Lucas Steele, partially obscured), and Franz von Schiller (Glenn Kalison).
A most unexpected visitor is Frau Helmuta von Ottinger (Christine Pedi), come to take revenge on Max for his mistreatment of her.
Helmuta pulls a pistol from her handbag and attempts to shoot Max -- but the bullet instead hits Johann in a most embarrassing part of his body. This removes him from the action for much of the remainder of the play.
Contrite over having wounded Johann, Helmuta returns with a basket of fruit...
...and soon finds herself in a heart-to-heart discussion with Kristina on the subject, "What do women want?" (Helmuta has begun psychoanalytic sessions with Dr. Sigmund Freud, so she has some thoughts on the matter.)
With Johann indisposed, the disreputable Max von Zerneck suggests that he and his fellow officers each try to seduce Kristina in their own style. The challenge is accepted. First up is Franz, who takes an overtly romantic approach to his task. (He even recites love poetry.)
Next to make the attempt is the virginal Dieter, who relies on total honesty in wooing his hostess -- but that gets him nowhere.
After the embarrassing episode with Kristina, Dieter is comforted by Frau Kessler....
...who then makes a very interesting suggestion.
The last to woo Kristina is the scoundrel Max himself, who's convinced that the fastest way to a woman's heart is to treat her like dirt.
Nearly all of the characters form unexpected alliances before the final fadeout. You'll have to see the play to find out who Dieter ends up with and why, at one point, he's (un)dressed like this.
At the climax of the play, Johann learns that he has received the promotion he coveted. This means that he is now Max's superior officer -- and he plans to take full advantage of his new position. Dalliance in Vienna continues performances at the American Theatre of Actors through December 21; click here for information.