The truth is sometimes the best cover. The two men who take up residence in Monsieur Bonhomme's attic are well aware of this. Bonhomme is certain that they are just looking for shelter, although the petrol cans, the fuse and the detonator prove to him that arsonists are at work. Bonhomme doesn't want to be seen as a humourless, heartless bourgeois! He ends up handing them the matches for the final explosion! Both an absurd comedy and a political parable, Max Frisch's M. Bonhomme et les incendiaires is as thought-provoking as it is funny!
The local newspaper publishes warnings about the actions of evil arsonists. Théodore Bonhomme, a wealthy hair lotion manufacturer, nevertheless allows two pedlars to stay in his attic. He likes to think of himself privately as a philanthropist who makes no class distinctions and is not a humourless bourgeois. Despite the intentions of these two men, Bonhomme laughs at the barrels of petrol piling up in his attic, categorically refusing to admit the truth before his eyes. Convinced to the end that he can control the situation, he coddles and cajoles the arsonists to win their good graces; he will even hand them the matches, thus running, eyes wide open, to his doom...
Max Frisch conceived his "didactic play without teaching" at a time when Switzerland was turning its gaze away from the evils of the Second World War. Nevertheless, Frisch's parable is still highly topical at a time when nationalism is dressing itself up in the finest garments of respectability in order to sell its totalitarian tendencies to the "Bonhomme" multitudes.
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