“The Secret Bubble”, Werk X-Petersplatz, Vienna

Ludovico Lucchesi Palli in Vienna
10 January 2023


Following the success of Gott ist nicht schüchtern, director Susanne Draxler returns to direct at Vienna’s Werk X-Petersplatz. The new co-production by this centrally located theatre and Nestbeschmutzer & Innen is an attempt to show  three different theatrical texts all dealing with the same themes.


Photo credit: Bettina Frenzel.


Here is the starting point. Vienna’s first district is sold to a Chinese women’s network that financed the development of the artificial womb. Under the pretext of building an amusement park for women, a training centre is constructed but one in which women are released from any obligations within a family context. They are instead readied to take over the world. This is launchpad for all three texts presented in this production.

The three texts are written by Barbi Marković, Thomas Arzt and Mario Wurmitzer. Marković is originally from Belgrade in Serbia and moved to Vienna in 2009. Her first work was entitled “Alexanderplatz” and was the result of participation at the Stadtschriftprojekt in Graz. It was published in 2012.

Her novel Superheldinnen appeared in 2016 and won a variety of prizes. In 2018 it was adapted for the stage and had a world premiere at Vienna’s Volkstheater. Her most recent novel entitled Die verschissene Zeit was published in 2021.

Thomas Arzt began his career at the Schauspielhaus in Vienna, where his first play was developed in a writing programme and later performed for the first time. He has since then written for various theatres in Austria and Germany such as the Landestheater Linz, Schauspielhaus Graz, Wiener Festwochen, Volkstheater Wien, Vorarlberger Landestheater and Theater in der Josefstadt.  His first novel entitled “Die Gegenstimme” was published in 2021.


Photo credit: Bettina Frenzel.


Mario Wurmitzer is a Vienna-based author and playwright. He has won many awards for his work including the jury prize of the Schule der Dichtung at the short audiobooks 1 “Track 5” from radio station Ö1 or the Drama prize in Osnabrück. His novel Im Inneren des Klaviers was published in 2018. In 2019 he was commissioned to write the play “Das Optimum” for Theater KOSMOS in Bregenz. In the Spring of 2023, his newest play Die Veredelung der Herzen, will have its world premiere at Theater Heilbronn.

The first text, which unfortunately is the most problematic as it is the slowest in terms of getting to the point, begins with three monologues. At some point these three individuals begin a random conversation. The second text, and possibly the most effective and most humorous, is set in a television studio. Here the two hosts invite a so-called expert to talk about the production of the artificial womb.

This text not only touches upon the themes in an interesting setting but also deals with the theme that everyone can be an expert these days. The television show is projected onto a round screen in the middle of the stage, followed by backstage commentary by performers who are in fact on the stage.

The final text is the story of an Internet nerd who starts a thread on the new amusement park for women. While he is described accurately, with a can of Red Bull by his side and that he never leaves his chair, the two other actors narrate and comment on his actions and make him appear passive at times.

These texts aren’t presented as three individual full texts, but director Susanne Draxler has woven these together into different scenes or episodes which gives room for more development. For example, in the case of the first scene, it is only towards the middle of play, which by the way is approximately 90 minutes long, that the story begins to take shape. Also, in the text with the television show, we see a variety of episodes, which helps us to engage with the protagonists more.

The cast consists of Maria Fliri, Peter Bocek and Nikolaus Firmkranz. They constantly switch between one text and another, playing a variety of roles.

The sets by Elisabeth Gressel consist of transparent gym balls used as chairs, with a big disc placed in the middle of the stage surrounded by neon lights. This is effective because it sets the tone for the rather futuristic themes and there is no need for big set changes between each scene. There is however, a round screen that projects images, such as a park or the television show, depending on each scene. The video design is by Dirk Pfeifer. The costumes, also designed by Gressel, are in matching colors with the sets.

The DJ and musician Electric Indigo provides the soundtrack which helps to tell each of the three stories. Susanne Draxler has managed to put these three texts together as one play and does so successfully, as the themes are told in three interesting contexts, each one with a different kind of voice.