The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Killer opens on an empty, bare stage. Suddenly the stage is brightly illuminated with blue and white lights, which gives an impression of silence and peace. This is the Radiant City, an enclave within the “dark and dismal” metropolis where Berenger lives.

Berenger, an ordinary, middle-aged man, enters to see the Radiant City; he hopes to move here. He is accompanied by the Architect, who later turns out to have a variety of other civil servant duties. Berenger is enraptured by the City, whose climate is controlled by concealed ventilators; flowers always bloom, it never rains, and the residential villas are built of the finest materials. Berenger finds in the City an embodiment of earlier momentary experiences he has had, sudden euphoria of joy and conviction; at first his pleasure in this new environment is ecstatic, only occasionally punctuated by the dry comments of the Architect. Using a telephone that he carries in his pocket, the Architect becomes increasingly irate about the tardiness of his secretary, Dany. When Dany finally arrives, Berenger falls instantly in love with her and proposes. She pays little attention to him; berated by the Architect, she resigns and leaves.

Berenger now realizes that the Radiant City is deserted. Stones from an invisible source are thrown at him and the Architect; the Architect explains that, in the ornamental pool in the City, one or more people, lured there by the Killer, drown each day. Disillusioned, the idealist Berenger leaves with the Architect; the lighting reverts to the gray of the surrounding city, and, now at a bistro, Berenger and the Architect have a glass of wine and a sandwich. The Architect, who—like other civil servants—is safe from the Killer, explains how the Killer lures a victim to his death by pretending to be a beggar and offering to sell the victim a variety of objects from his basket, everything from artificial flowers to obscene drawings to a photograph of a colonel; finally, at the edge of the pool, the Killer gives the client a push so that he falls in and is drowned. The Architect...

(The entire section is 858 words.)