A ‘fascist’ play in a ‘repressive’ country is all the rage, according to critics

Covidians can’t stop cussing in “Show Me A Hero,” but the Brussels’ hit small-town drama comes with a couple of built-in noises that critics say will help censor your language if you show up with a baby and no one to be told off for profanity.

Ever since Thomas Mann’s novels and translations in the 1920s made him the literary literary apostle of an anti-fascist little oasis in the country of his birth, the land of Romania, the region of Bratislava, which includes a prison-ridden and grimy capital that has been dubbed “Crassov,” has been grappling with its own fascist past as today’s nationalist and ethnic politicians make it their Waterloo.

“Show Me A Hero” has been front and center in one of the major bouts of tension between Brussels’ right and left politics. The drama tells the story of a former communist-era organiser who is faced with the dilemma of a former Communist who wants to return from exile to start business in a small Bulgarian city — or take his chances in a city full of Nationalists who despise Communism.

While the play was sold out in the United States and Britain, it was “masked” in the (Berlin) Kino 100 and in other European theaters, according to its producers. Now at some venues, theater directors have proposed increasingly stringent punishment.

Every time that protagonist Nick remembers uttering a swear word, which sounds “like God had said something to him,” a curtain snaps, as if with a broomstick twirling back and forth, mimicking animal sounds. After that, one might be lucky enough to get the version shown in Romania and Bulgaria, where there is a controversial portrayal of “a working class man named Dimitris [who] is whipped by a chauvinist Nationalist and beaten repeatedly.” At the centre of the documentary is Dimitris.

“This is a line which has been crossed and he must be punished,” says the play’s director Ivan Tudor.

But is there a gender-charged undertone to the play?

Dimitris is bad. None of this is very good for him. When his wife hears he’s just got the sack, she says, “You’re always late for work, you say all the weirdest things and your pork chops are weird too. Do you know what’s disgusting? Your pregnant breasts. You’re hideous and you’re a man.”

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