Absurdism and hidden information
The Two Executioners
Directed by Douglas Horton
Adapted from a play by Fernando Arrabal
Performed by Chamber Made Opera
Starring Bernadette Robinson
Napier Street Theatre, South Melbourne
Until August 20
Reviewed by Karl Miller
While her husband is tortured to death in an adjacent room, a mother argues with her two small children on the merits of what is taking place. Chamber Made Opera has been exploring the marriage between contemporary theatre and contemporary music since its inception in 1988.
Arrabal's work is in the Absurdist tradition. The playwright grew up in Spain during the civil war, but moved to France before entering the theatre. The subject of The Two Executioners is partly bibliographic: Arrabal's mother denounced his father during the civil war.
The play is about withholding information. Important facts are never revealed, including the identity of the executioners, where the events are taking place, or why the mother has denounced the father. Horton points out that the theme of hidden information can be compared to modern events, for example when CNN turned the 1991 Gulf War into highly sanitised death.
Executioners also explores the mirrors between the family and the state.