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The Arsonists by Max Frisch
Translation by Alistair Beaton
Directed by Barbra Berlovitz
A man with convictions finds an answer for everything. Convictions are the best form of protection against the living truth.
– Max Frisch
In an unspecified town, houses are set ablaze and arsonists are enjoying the destruction. At Beidermann’s house, two such people are offered shelter from the rain. They are given a place to sleep, wined and dined until they finally leave. The house, of course, burns to the ground.
This topical dark comedy is funny, musical and outrageous. The “hero” is a business owner who has just ruthlessly fired a longtime employee. He lives with his wife and maid who are powerless to make this self-centered man see the truth. There are two arsonists, one a trickster who deceives others to get what he wants, the other is his sidekick, an ex-wrestler. Both are dangerous. There is an academic who has ideas but doesn’t act on them and a policeman who could save the day but doesn’t. Finally, there is the chorus of firemen. And like the Greek chorus of ancient Greece, they sing their way through the story but, alas, effect no change.