– on the dramaturgy of Eugéne Ionesco –
Ionesko, that God-destroyer, known as one of the great portraitist of human characters, who, from Racine to Mauriac, managed to build a strong tradition. But, aside from this, he stays faithful to his impudent innovatory dramaturgical way of writing, in spite of his manner to use some of his old ones, too. So, for example, the first act often contents the “real exposition”, the return to the psychical comedy and that really requires the classical way of work.
But, what surprises us is the fact that the author of AMEDEE collides WITH the author of VICTIMS OF THE DUTY. That’s because AMEDEE, at least at the beginning, is “a detective” story.
With this “denial”, this introductory novelty, surprisingly, doesn’t present any enigma at all, knowing that the opening lines in the FIRE FLAG, very directly introduces us with the context: “Why didn’t you notify his death earlier? –Madeleine asked – At least you would get rid of the body earlier, when it was much easier!”.
In contrary, the first sentences in this comedy make the audience to ask themselves some questions. After the curtain goes up, and after Amedee will pick up a mushroom, he murmurs to himself: “Oh, that Madeleine, that Madeleine, when she did enter that room, she will never get out of there! She did a lot of looking, but enough looking already. We did too! Oh, tra, la, la, la!”. So, the question is WHO is that magical guest. The mystery upgrades when Amedee himself takes a look and claims: “It’s grown a little bit more, I would say.”. Is it some plant, or some animal, maybe?
There are many links among the extraordinary multiplying of the mushrooms and the presence of the unknown: “If it continues to grow (in the dinning room)” – Madeleine continues – “this will became really unbearable”. The life goes on, Amedee tries to write again, while Madeleine cleans the kitchen. But that doesn’t make the problem easier.
Amedee goes to look at that “thing” again, comes back with obvious anxiety and announces: a corpse which gets older and bigger as the time passes. The audience, anyway, has to wait for the Act II, to meet the (probable) identity of the deceased, announced on the News much earlier.
Anyway, that what makes the Act I interesting isn’t the suspense built on the standard patterns well known before; it is the original directing and the extraordinary humor, the elements natural to the avant-garde theater, moderately added to permanently increase the tension till the break point. During the first part of this act you can’t see the corpse. And with every Amedee’s return from the dinning room, he claims hopelessly: “It’s bigger again. There is almost no more room at the sofa. His legs are already getting out… His finger-nails are enormous already. His tiptoes are getting out of his shoes now.”. Later, the corpse itself announces its presence with “easy” popping which grows louder and turns into the “big and strong pounding on the wall”; “petrified by horror”, Amedee and Madeleine, and the audience along with them, watch how the “two enormous feet” emerge through the opened door “stretched on the scene about forty to fifty centimeters”. Like in some Racine’s tragedy, Ionesco’s comedy begins at the moment when the crisis becomes inevitable; unlike the classical theater, where the dialogue reveals the pathetic in an abstract way, the modern drama-writer can reach for the scene means of concretisation. “The machine” substitutes the studying of social contexts.