In this collection, Eric Bentley presents "Concord," a comedy adapted from Kleist's "The Broken Jug;""The Fall of the Amazons, " a tragedy written in response to Kleist's "Penthesilea;" and "Wannsee, "a tragic-comedy which is Bentley's rendering of Kleist's "Cathy of Heilbronn."
Bentley sets "Concord" in a courthouse during the early days of the Republic. Convened to discover who broke an irreplaceable jug symbolic of the chivalric age of Sir Walter Raleigh, Judge Adam's madcap court flounders in hilarious chaos induced by huge lies to cover comic lust.
"Fall of the Amazons" is the story of Achilles and the Amazon queen, Penthesilea. Through this pagan play, Bentley explores improbably love, which he exemplifies in the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac: "In seeming to be cruel to both father and son, God has enabled them to find, in total vulnerability, total love," a theme that also pervades Wannsee.
Bentley's "Wannsee" is a play of pageantry: emperors, counts, dueling knights, a young beauty of seemingly low birth, cherubs, and witches masked in loveliness. A fabulous love story ostensibly designed to dissuade Kleist from self-destruction, "Wannsee "demonstrates with a flourish that, though devils roam the earth, there are also angels.