A: Harold Pinter Pf: 1988, London Pb: 1988 G: Pol. drama in 1 act S: Prison camp of unspecified nation, late 20th c. C: 6m, 2fTwo women have been waiting for eight hours in the snow outside a military prison camp holding ‘enemies of the state’: the Young Woman Sarah Johnson to see her husband; the Elderly Woman to see her son. The latter has had her hand bitten by a guard dog, but the Officer refuses to register a complaint, because the women cannot name the dog. They are warned that they must not speak the Mountain Language but only ‘the language of the capital’. The Mother tries to speak with her son, but is warned by the Guard not to use her native tongue. When the Prisoner dares to point out that he has a wife and three children, the Guard summons the Sergeant to come and deal with the ‘joker’. The Young Woman sees her husband covered in a hood and being manhandled. The Sergeant assures her that if she has sex with the interrogator, ‘everything will be all right’. The Mother still sits with her son, who has been very badly beaten. The Guard announces that, under new rules, they may use their mountain language, but the Mother is so traumatized that she can no longer speak. The desperate Prisoner sinks to the floor, groaning inarticulately. The Sergeant enters, furious: ‘You go out of your way to give them a helping hand and they fuck it up.’
A: Harold Pinter Pf: 1988, London Pb: 1988 G: Pol. drama in 1 act S: Prison camp of unspecified nation, late 20th c. C: 6m, 2f
Mistakenly regarded as being totally non-political, Pinter proved critics wrong with plays like One for the Road (1984) and Mountain Language. There is still no specificity about place or political context, and the dialogue bears the stamp of Pinter's rhetoric of the everyday. Here the stamping out of mountain language (bearing echoes of Latin American countries, where the native peoples are subject to Spanish-speaking landlords) in favour of the language of the ‘capital’ (a word with a double meaning), stands as a metaphor for the repression of dissidents everywhere.