Auschwitz is one of two acts of Peter Barnes’ Laughter. The play, which is an ironic, black comedy is set in the bureaucratic offices of government employees in Berlin. While the characters in the play seem to be representative of civil servants in any governmental setting, with the same petty concerns and battles, the audience is slowly made aware that they are responsible for the functioning of the Auschwitz extermination center. Much of their office jargon is the Nazi terminology used for the Final Solution. Near the close of the play, file cabinets in the office to reveal a gas chamber with disfigured dummies representing gassed victims and grotesque Sonderkommandos clearing the dead. The play closes with a grotesque comic performance by the cabaret artists Bimko and Bieberstein in the Auschwitz camp of Birkenau.
Format: Tragicomedy
Cast Size: 16M/3F



For additional reading, see Gene A. Plunka, Holocaust Drama: The Theater of Atrocity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 31–39.

Original or Prominent Production: Royal Court Theatre, London, January 25, 1978
Nationality of Author:
Original Language: English

Heinemann Educational Publishers 1976 (out of print).
Also in Plays of the Holocaust: An International Anthology by Elinor Fuchs,  editor, Theatre Communications Group, 1993.

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