Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Police, like most of Sawomir Mroek’s other plays, is grounded in the playwright’s actual experiences in communist Poland, where daily life was characterized by fear of prosecution for disloyalty and by an absurdly complicated bureaucracy. Mroek regards life in Cold-War-era Poland as so absurd that his plays turn into grotesque, cartoonlike parodies. These nightmarish visions of his homeland led to Mroek’s exile in 1964, and his work was banned in Poland from 1968 until 1974. In the 1980’s, this harsh stance of the Polish government softened significantly, and Mroek’s plays were once more widely performed.

The Police dramatizes a society, undefined but certainly recognizable as a parody of Poland, in which a totalitarian government, led by an Infant King and his uncle, the Regent, has managed to suppress all opposition. The last vestige of resistance, the Prisoner, feels out of place and strangely nostalgic for law and order. To be an anarchist revolutionary is a lonely, depressing existence, and the lack of support from the general population finally persuades the former rebel that conformity, even with a previously despised political system, is gratifying and comforting. There is a marked difference between the Prisoner’s observations of his society from his cell window and those of the Sergeant in act 3. The perspective from a prison window is limited, and the interpretation of the scene depends heavily on whether one...

(The entire section is 520 words.)