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Pentecost


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A: David Edgar Pf: Stratford-upon-Avon, 1994 Pb: 1995 G: Drama in 2 acts; mainly English, also some Russian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Azeri, prose S: Church in unnamed south-east European country, 1990s C: 18m, 12f, extrasIn an abandoned Romanesque church, which has been used as prison, warehouse, and museum, the art curator Gabriella Pecs has discovered a unique 13th-century fresco. She shows her find to Oliver Davenport, a British art historian, and they persuade the Minister of Culture to authorize restoration work. Professor Leo Katz of Cornell University flies in, and a former dissident Anna Jedlikova, now a magistrate, is called upon to rule on the ownership and fate of the fresco. Leo persuades ‘the court’ that the fresco is probably a 14th-century copy, and that the restorers will remove it for an international tour and perhaps never return it. A gang of armed international asylum seekers enter the church and seize Gabriella, Oliver, and Leo as hostages. When the church is surrounded by police, the refugees threaten to murder the hostages, and an Orthodox priest is sent in to negotiate. He brings insulin for the diabetic Oliver, secretly concealing a radio transmitter. Leo, now claiming that the fresco is a major art treasure, suggests that the refugees use it as a bargaining tool. A Catholic priest brings assurances that some hostage-takers will be resettled, but that the rest will be deported. A Palestinian woman refuses this offer, and prepares to torch the fresco. Commandos break in through the fresco, and Oliver and three refugees are shot dead.

A: David Edgar Pf: Stratford-upon-Avon, 1994 Pb: 1995 G: Drama in 2 acts; mainly English, also some Russian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Azeri, prose S: Church in unnamed south-east European country, 1990s C: 18m, 12f, extras

In arguably David Edgar's most accomplished play, he once again displays his talent for dramatizing contemporary political concerns, here those of countries in south-east Europe after the fall of Communism, the desperate plight of international refugees, and the international heritage business. The fresco, which may have been a totally innovative work by a Muslim or merely an inferior copy, stands as a metaphor for new countries choosing between establishing their own national identity or merely imitating the West. Stewart Parker also wrote a Pentecost (1987) about four Belfast people during the Ulster Workers' Strike of 1974.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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David Edgar (b. 1948)


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