18 April 2007
Žarko Petan (b. 1929) is both a director and the author of many plays for radio and theatre. Fatalna komedija (A Fatal Comedy) deals with man’s approach to life’s passing by and to the inexorable approach of death. In the play, Petan’s Old Man finds himself in a Faustian situation, face to face with the Angel of Death. Their verbal confrontation seems on the surface to be merely light banter, but it is actually a fierce struggle between life and death.
Death constantly plays with man, forcing him to lie to himself, to believe that death can be deceived and the final moment postponed—at least in his mind. Man agrees to the game; he convinces himself that death can be tricked, even though he is aware that it is inevitable, because even this last game, the beginning of the end, is much better than the end itself.
Petan’s Old Man is armed only with his memories, his past, his unrealised hopes and his “final wishes”. Yet his Angel of Death does not entirely reject these weak weapons. He is willing to accept any game, he allows all kinds of alterations, illusions, deviations and interruptions. His role is, after all, to bring death, and for each a death tailored to him. But even if death is kind and funny, it is equally inevitable and final.