A Cabaret in Hungary Asks a Horrific Question: What if Jews Vanished?

A Cabaret in Hungary Asks a Horrific Question: What if Jews Vanished?


Golem Theater is a Jewish company to the extent that it deals with topics from a Jewish perspective, Mr. Borgula said, adding that he was always open to working with artists from outside the community. For this production, he invited a diverse group of writers to create the script, including Borbala Szabo, a practicing Roman Catholic who describes herself as conservative but is critical of Mr. Orban’s government.

In an interview, Ms. Szabo said that theater audiences in Hungary were sharply divided along political lines and tended to see plays that reinforced their worldview. “They come as if they were coming to Mass, knowing exactly what they want to hear,” she said.

Ms. Szabo said she had friends, family and colleagues in both conservative and liberal circles, which helped her offer fresh perspectives.

“This show attempts a kind of bubble-bursting,” she said. “It shows the situation from several directions.” One sketch features liberal activists self-importantly trying to find an adequate response to the disappearances. In a later scene, the prime minister is shown listening to ministers and advisers as they discuss how to find a new group that they can “love on the surface but hate deep down.”

Ms. Szabo said she hoped that liberals and conservatives would come and see the show.

“I think the way to defeat this type of regime, moving toward dictatorship, is to realize that in fact we are together as a country, and those above us manipulate us with this hatred,” she said.

At the end of “The Chosen Ones” there have been no consequences of the mysterious disappearance that is the show’s central conceit. In real life, of course, there are still Jews in Hungary, but other elements of society have vanished since Mr. Orban took office: Universities have been closed and national newspapers which once had circulations of tens of thousands are gone.

Mr. Borgula said he wanted to highlight how “we wake up the next day and carry on with our lives.”

“My biggest fear, as a Jew and a Hungarian citizen,” he added, “is that this is what would really happen — namely, nothing.”



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