18 € Normal
16 € Club Ö1, unions, Pensioners, Verbund, Kolping members
14 € as of 5zig, Tera Vienna Card, groups 7+ persons
9 € Students
Press & general enquiries contact Joanna Godwin-Seidl
Tel.: 43(0) 699 12127679
Lights: Gordana Crnko
Set: Joanna Godwin-Seidl/Richard Panzenböck
Costumes: Andrea Bernd
PR Design & concept: Gernot Ottowitz
Location Management: Theater Drachengasse Team
Starring: Ricky Watson and David Wurawa
Directed by: Joanna Godwin-Seidl
Production Managers : Silke Müllner, Christina Koepl,
Assistant: Kathy Firli
by Suzan-Lori Parks
Pulitzer Prize Award for Drama 2002
Premiere 10th February 2014 8pm
11th - 15th February 2014 further performances
Theater Drachengasse Bar & Co, Fleischmarkt 22, 1010 Vienna
In honour of Black History Month 2014 with kind cooperation; a co- production with U.S. Embassy Vienna.
Tickets: 01/5131444 or
The play chronicles the adult lives of two African American brothers, Lincoln and Booth, as they cope with women, work, poverty, gambling, racism, and their troubled upbringings
Topdog/Underdog is about the men who hustle cards and take money from fools. But these characters are not as slick as the con-men in David Mamet’s scripts. They are soured, worn-out, self-reflective, and on the brink of destruction. Written by Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002. This two-person drama is filled with gritty dialogue and age-old themes, rooted in a long tradition of fraternal rivals: Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, Moses and Pharaoh.
The Plot and Characters
Two brothers in their mid-to-late thirties struggle to eek out an existence in a shabby little rooming house. The older brother, Lincoln (also known as “Link”), was once a skilled 3-card Monte con-artist who gave it up after the untimely death of his friend. The younger brother, Booth, wants to be a big shot – but spends most of his time shoplifting and awkwardly practicing the art of card hustling. Their father named them Booth and Lincoln; it was his dismal idea of a joke.
Booth talks about his many goals and dreams. He discusses his sexual conquests and his romantic frustrations. Lincoln is much lower-key. He often thinks about his past: his ex-wife, his successes as a card hustler, his parents who abandoned him when he was sixteen. Booth is impulsive throughout most of the play, sometimes reacting violently whenever frustrated or intimidated. Lincoln, on the other hand, seems to let the world step all over him.
Instead of grifting, Lincoln has settled into a very odd job at a carnival arcade. For hours on end, he sits in a display box dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Because he is black, his employers insist that he wears “white-face” make-up. He sits still, reenacting the final moments of the famed president (the “real” Lincoln was assassinated as he watched the play, My American Cousin ). Throughout the day, paying customers sneak up and shoot Link in the back of the head with a cap-gun. It’s a strange and morbid occupation. I certainly don’t blame Link for being lured back into card hustling; he’s in his natural element when he's working the cards.
Seething Sibling Rivalry
Lincoln and Booth share a complex (and therefore fascinating) relationship. They constantly tease and insult one another, but alternately offer support and encouragement. They both pine over failed romantic relationships. They were both abandoned by their parents. Link practically raised Booth; and the younger brother is both envious and in awe of his elder.
Despite this kinship, they often betray each other.
Conclusion of "Topdog/Underdog"
There is something disturbingly voyeuristic about the final scene. The explosive ending feels very similar to the unpleasant job that poor Link has at the arcade. Perhaps the message is that we the audience are just as blood-thirsty and macabre as the carnival patrons who pretend to shoot Lincoln day after day.
Throughout the play, the brothers exhibit very shady, misguided, and misogynistic characteristics. Yet, through it all, they are very human, very believable as brothers who have been through so much together. It seems the climactic violence stems not so much from a believable progression of the characters, but from the author forcing these deadly themes onto her creations.