"It is not about dying but about how we live when dying." The theme of the holocaust is presented in a bizarrely shocking story of a few prisoners in Auschwitz. Wit and pain, ridiculousness and disaster are unexpectedly brought together in the Czech premiere of Tabori's scandalous play from 1968.
"A group of starving prisoners in an Auschwitz barrack kill their co-prisoner Fatty, who was caught swallowing a stolen piece of bread. The prisoners resolve to prepare a dinner party from the fat man and to eat the corpse. All the Uncle's attempts to avoid cannibalism are in vain. The murder is discovered by a warder Schrekinger and he orders the starving prisoners to swallow the corpse before his very eyes. Fully aware of how abhorrent the intended act is, all but two refuse to obey Schrekinger's order and all but two die in a gas chamber.
In this complex set of questions about ethics, violence and dignity raised by the theme of Cannibals, the humour is the most dismaying aspect. Tabori's humour comes from the premise that "the fulfilment of every joke is a disaster". The scandalous plot of Cannibals is a temptation to a directness of production. Concealed quotations and a number of references, a common feature in Tabor's recent texts, could also reduce the production to a mere decoding of meanings. However, the director Jan Nebeský and the dramaturg Kateřina Šavlíková have approached the drama with a sovereign certainty and they have not hestitated to infringe, delete or add."
(by Petr Štědroň, Divadelní noviny (Theatre News))
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