The Tóth Family

(1967. Tragicomedy 2 two parts, prose. Characters: 7 men, 3 women)

This small mountain village is only visited by retired people for holidays, therefore a major visiting is short of a miracle in the eyes of the locals. Yet Major Varró is coming to visit, an officer on the Eastern front during WWII, convinced by lieutenant Gyula Tóth, to visit his parents, spending his two-week sick leave in the peaceful village. Lajos Tóth, a respectable fireman, and his wife would do everything in their might for their son, Gyula. And the Major, terribly moved, promises to take the boy by his side, come winter, in the well-heated field office, where, additionally, his life would also be in less of a peril. The Major looks polite, even a bit ungainly, but in reality he is touchy and ruthless.  He finds the peaceful idleness annoying, he is about to go mad, suddenly relieved when he overhears: the family is folding cardboard boxes for medication using the cardboard of the nearby bandage factory. The guest is electrified by this activity. He is amazed by the paper cutter which is used to prepare the cardboard for folding. With a mild terror he forces the Tóth family to keep making boxes with through the night. Even more, Tóth has to manufacture a bigger paper cutter for him, which is almost a guillotine. When Lajos Tóth can not take it any longer, he leads his son’s superior to the paper cutter, without a wink of the eyelid, and cuts the Major to pieces. The family still does not know, however, that all this was to no avail: Lieutenant Gyula Tóth had already died a hero in the fight against the enemy.   


István Örkény (1912-1979)

István Örkény  was born in an affluent family, graduating as a pharmacist. He was taken to Labour Service to the front, where he fell prisoner of war, and was only released in December 1946. He started writing in captivity: he was a reliable and artistic chronicler of the tragic Voronezh front. In 1948 his play titled Voronezh was banned: this was his first, but not last, encounter with censorship. After the 1956 Revolution he was not allowed to publish for years. He wrote the short story version of many of his later successful plays. With his unique tone, grotesque world view brought new colours to the Hungarian literature of the sixties, and created a new genre with the one-minute novellas. His first stage success was brought to him by the premiere of The Tóth Family. His principal plays are: The Tóth Family (1967), Cat Play (1971), Key Seekers (1975), Pisti in the Bloodbath (1969-79).