As one of last survivors of a terrible, but distant era, George Tabori imbues all of his dramatic works with the underlying fear that the horrors of the past, however many years distant, simply lie sleeping beneath the surface of “civilized” society and may, once again, rise up to destroy humanity. Tabori implicitly asks: Who and what are determining how Jews should lead their lives? The Cannibals, Mein Kampf: A Farce, and My Mother’s Courage, all provide examples of how individuals can be reduced to mere symbols or stereotypes by the circumstances of their lives while still managing, through adherence to inner principles and agapic love, to retain their dignity. The true evil of the Holocaust seems to be that the choice between life and death can be reduced to a mere matter of expediency should one’s humanity cease to play a role in one’s perceptions of others. On the other hand, it is also the refusal of an individual to allow his or her dignity to be stripped from him or her that, paradoxically, allows that individual to remain human.
In The Cannibals, a play Tabori dedicated to his father, the playwright examines the extent to which individuals can be forced to abandon even the most basic elements of morality. When Puffi, an inmate of a concentration camp, is accidentally killed, his fellow prisoners are ordered by the sadistic Capo to eat his body or be similarly killed....
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