"Truth is the best Camouflage"
by Marco Marrese for remotegoat on 18/03/11

The Fireraisers by Max Frisch was written in the 1950s with the rise of Totalitarianism in mind, but the beauty of this text is a classic that will say something to the readers of any time.
The Author puts in front of us Goodman and his wife, who live in a dangerous world populated with arsonists. The couple is all too aware of their existence and the danger they represent but, as the first arsonist knocks at Goodman's door, we already feel that this is not going to end well.

From a tiny act of prevarication, a first arsonist lets himself in without Goodman's permission, a succession of small acts of appeasement lead to disaster. At first, Goodman realizes this is not right but then he loses his reference points altogether. In the end, conciliation dooms not only himself and his family, but the whole community.

Unfortunately, plays like The Firerisers are more often read than performed, and this staging by John Phillips (director and producer), based on his own translation, is a great opportunity to actually see it.

His choice not to get in the way of the script is praiseworthy. When you have a classic, there is no need for inventive interpretations. Phillips knows it and the audience can appreciate this.

Our arsonist duo, interpreted by Ben Higgins and Tom Moores, dominate the acting. Their performances are excellent. Higgins is so convincing in mixing ingenuousness and cunning that at first we are actually taken in by him, as Goodman is. Plus, I don't think you will see often more eating and drinking on stage (and it is not as easy as it looks at all!). Moores is brilliantly mischievous and successfully delivers the best irony of the play. Together they provide wonderful chemistry.
Philip Nightingale's interpretation of Goodman feels overemphasized at moments but he settles as we get into the play while Sally Preston's performance (as Goodman's wife) is good when her character is not being hysterical. Finally, Georgina MacFarlane's comic contribution is very entertaining and balances out well with the drama unfolding.

This is a performance that makes the most of the script. It lulls the audience through the events with a delightful mix of sadness, wit and levity that lets us enjoy the show, and only later, but inexorably, do we start thinking how we all behave as Goodmen.

"The best and safest camouflage is still the pure, naked truth. Funnily enough, no one ever believes it", we are told. It should be for this reason then that when truth is disguised in fiction, we see it plainly.

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