“Catarina and the beauty of killing fascists” – On stage, in the audience, what revolt?

"Catarina and the beauty of killing fascists" - On stage, in the audience, what revolt?

With its fluid staging and its daring finale, Catarina and the Beauty of Killing Fascists takes the public to task, the better to point the finger at our passivity in the face of fascism.

Portugal, not so long ago. A family gathers around a banquet. The mother, her daughters, the grandfather. All wear traditional clothes – let’s bet not to pay attention to the Birkenstocks of one of the characters -, loose pants and tank tops. Today is a special day. Fascism is advancing in the country, and some of them have been elected to parliament.

A danger to democracy, which this clan, marked on the left, has been fighting for decades. To do this, one of the family members kills a fascist in cold blood every year. Like a rite of passage, a kind of custom to which we have always devoted ourselves, without questioning it.

This time, it’s the young Catarina who has to stick to it. His first kill. The opportunity to claim full membership in the family group. The young woman thinks she is ready. It is when she points her revolver in the direction of the fascist deputy, kidnapped by her family for the occasion, that she gives up. ” I see a helpless man “, she says. How can the end justify the means?

Dilemmas galore

Tiago Rodrigues, who has chosen to stage Portuguese actors, spares his spectator with a simple, almost simplistic staging. Unity of time, place, the spectator remains anchored in the living room of this Portuguese family and killer of fascists.

This scriptwriting simplicity allows him to emphasize the dialogues – surtitled on the screen – and to orient the spectator directly towards the real object of the show. Rodrigues does not celebrate theatre, he questions his characters – and soon the spectator – about his visions of ethics and politics.

The dialogues, funny, and very understandable, pose a certain number of moral dilemmas which strike the characters. One of the characters is vegan. We make fun of her at the beginning of the show, we confuse her veganism with vegetarianism.

Later, a man from the family comes to see her. ” I taste the taste of guilt when I eat meat “, he admits. Between his pleasure and the certainty of not doing the right thing (here, saving the animals), he finds it hard to choose.

The device is repeated when Catarina refuses to kill a man, even if the latter is a fascist and therefore dangerous. Even if the fascists are numerous to gain power and pose a risk to democracy. Any resemblance to the current political situation in Europe is purely coincidental.

The fascists may encourage men to commit many feminicides, can we afford to kill them? Are we protecting democracy when we assassinate our own political opponents? Are we still democrats if we use the same means as the dictatorship? Moral dilemmas, not very subtle, are égrainé, numerous, with the wire of the dialogues, until arriving at their point of organ. The characters decide, or rather do not decide.

The finale, which cannot be told so as not to spoil the show, forces the viewer to choose. A huge moment of theatre, which brings together various contradictory feelings. As if Rodrigues was holding out a mirror to his audience. As if after the theory, came the time for practice. A must see.

Catarina and the Beauty of Killing Fascists by Tiago Rodrigues, at the Bouffes du Nord theater, from October 7 to 30, 2022. From 11 to 34 euros.

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