- (German: round dance) A one-act play by the Austrian playwrightArthur Schnitzler (1862 - 1931). It was written in 1896 - 97and first performed in 1912 in Budapest, where the audience was shockedby its frank portrayal of casual and heartless sexual encounters.Schnitzler was a friend of Sigmund Freud and had been influenced byhis idea of sex being paramount in human behaviour. The play causedriots when performed in Vienna in 1921 and was not staged again until1982. It has been translated into English as The Round Dance,Merry-Go-Round, and Hands Around, and has twice beenfilmed in France as La Ronde (1950 and 1964). In 1998 DavidHare's adaptation of Reigen as The blue Room causedrenewed excitement, owing mainly to the brief onstage nudity of Hollywoodstar Nicole Kidman.
The play, set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, presents a daisychain of sexual liaisons: a prostitute is picked up by a soldier,who meets a housemaid, who is seduced by her master, who sleeps witha young married woman, and so on. The 'round dance' is completed whenan army officer picks up the original prostitute. The characters alldeceive or are deceived, excusing their infidelities to themselveswith a variety of pretexts.