Victims of Duty

by Eugène Ionesco

L'Etage Cabaret
March 15 - 28, 2007
Directed by Tina Brock
Amie Shafer
Bob Schmidt
The Detective
Brian Adoff
Lee Pucklis
The Lady
Pat Lewis


Tina Brock

Costume Design

Melissa Black

Sound Design

Tina Brock

Stages Manager/Lights and Sound

Ryan McMenamin

Production Manager

Bob Schmidt

Playing time is 75 minutes; there will be no intermission.


Feel free to visit the bar and accommodations,

located in the lobby, throughout the show. 


~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ ~



3 Leg Torso: 3 Leg Torso & Astor in Paris (Meester Records)


John Zorn: Filmworks II: Cynical Hysterie Hour (Tzadik)


The Blue Series Continuum: Good and Evil Sessions (Thirsty Ear)


~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ ~



Eugène Ionesco (1909 – 1994)was undoubtedly the most fertile and original of the dramatists of the Absurd, and also, in spite of a streak of clowning and fun for its own sake in his work, one of the most profound. He was, moreover, the most vocal of the dramatists of the Absurd, prepared to discuss the theoretical foundations of his work and to reply to the attacks on it from committed left-wing realists. The critique of language and the haunting presence of death are Ionesco’s chief themes in plays like The Bald Soprano, The Lesson, The Chairs, The Killer, Rhinoceros, and Exit The KingAmédée or How to Get Rid of It (1953) was Ionesco’s first full-length play and contains one of his most telling images. It is also characteristic in its alternation between states of depression and euphoria, leaden oppression and floating on air, an image which reappears through his work.



Victims of Duty (2007)

"Who knew there was still an empty niche in Philly's jam-packed theater scene? Well, there was, and the new Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium has come to fill it with its specialty, the Theater of the Absurd. Eugene Ionesco's Victims of Duty is a bizarre, rarely seen work by the Romanian/French playwright whose Rhinoceros and The Chairs are classics of the modern stage."
Toby Zinman, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Director's Notes

March 2007

Victims of Duty: A Fun House of Mirrors

The IRC's inaugural season is underway, and we're glad you’re here to experience Ionesco's parody of conformist modern life. We're excited to flex our absurdist muscles with this disturbing yet hilarious gem written in 1952.

I'm interested to know your reactions to this play. When I first read Victims last year, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers came to mind, as well as shades of Mel Brooks, especially Young Frankenstein. When I asked friends to give Victims a read, not a few responded with "It's so disturbing…it's so dark." I reacted to the hilarity of the existential struggle, the absurdity of the lengths to which we will go to keep our fears and demons at bay, and the beauty that arises from not knowing -- the formlessness that's required to sustain faith and make personal sense of it all.

Victims' Nicholas explains, "we are not so much ourselves as another" and "personality doesn't exist." As the actors explored these ideas, they challenged themselves to simply respond to what was given them by the other characters, to be affected by the unfolding experience, without thinking or analyzing.  We all were, as Choubert explains, “surprised to be.”

Ionesco’s thoughts:  “We need to be virtually bludgeoned into detachment from our daily lives, our habits and mental laziness, which conceal from us the strangeness of the world. Without a fresh virginity of mind, without a new and healthy awareness of existential reality, there can be no theatre and no art either; the real must be in a way dislocated, before it can be reintegrated.”

For the actors working through it all and for me as a director/spectator attempting to negotiate the tricky tonal balance in Ionesco’s work, we often felt as though we were walking a tightrope hovering above a very deep abyss. As the Detective in Victims sizes up Choubert's existential problem to this wife Madeleine: "He's either too heavy or too light." These discoveries made our Victims rehearsal process an exciting and confounding one, a joy wrapped in an enigma. When we got stuck, I tried to imagine Ionesco himself giving us advice, explaining what he really intended. What I was left with in the end is that our struggle and confusion were the point of it all, and exactly how he would have wanted it.

Thanks for spending your evening with us.

Tina Brock
Artistic Director