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Tango


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A: Sł awomir Mrożek Pf: 1965, Warsaw Pb: 1964 Tr: 1968 G: Pol. drama in 3 acts; Polish prose S: Stomils' living room, Poland, 1960s C: 4m, 3fArthur Stomil returns home from university to discover that his family is living a life of moral anarchy. Unimpressed by the arguments of his father Stomil and his mother Eleanor that this freedom to act on impulse has been won dear, Arthur determines to become a doctor and get married to his cousin Ala in the traditional manner. If his family will not behave properly, then he will force them to. But Arthur's plans founder: he discovers that the servant Eddie has seduced his mother, and Stomil refuses to shoot Eddie when ordered to do so. Ala, who prefers just to sleep with Arthur, agrees to a traditional wedding only because she looks good in white, and his hedonistic grandmother Eugenia would rather die than submit to Arthur's new moral order. Eventually, Eddie, the anti-intellectual proletarian, kills Arthur and with Arthur's uncle Eugene performs a tango, the dance of overt sexuality, over his corpse.

A: Sł awomir Mrożek Pf: 1965, Warsaw Pb: 1964 Tr: 1968 G: Pol. drama in 3 acts; Polish prose S: Stomils' living room, Poland, 1960s C: 4m, 3f

Like Gombrowicz's The Wedding, Tango is based on Hamlet (and also owes something to Bacchae), but here the political allegory is much clearer, and the behaviour of the Hamlet figure much more determined. The grandparents represent the self-indulgent pleasures of the past, his parents the moral confusion after the Second World War, Arthur the attempt to organize Polish society on rational lines, and Eddie, the brutish man of action, who like Stalin (and the future Polish leader Jaruzelski) would take over the state, using force to impose totalitarian ideas. Its exuberant theatricality helped it to become the most widely performed post-war Polish play.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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