The setting is an ornate room in a former Archbishop's palace in an Eastern European capital, a room which has probably been bugged by the secret police. The central character is a middle-aged author, Sigmund, who, having embarrassed the current regime, is faced with the choice of detention and punishment or defection to the West. He is encouraged in the latter by two of his former friends, also writers, his compatriot Marcus, an ex-political prisoner now in favor with the regime, and Adrian, a visiting American with strongly liberal ideals. The situation is complicated by the presence of Myra, a poet and actress, who has been the mistress of all three. It is the complexity of the relationship of these four, the inextricable interweaving of politics, art and sex, and the constant uncertainty as to whether what they say may be overheard that makes for a rich and deeply intriguing play—and one that, in the final essence, raises questions not only about morality and individual responsibility but also about the very nature of reality in a world where absolutes seem to shift and blur as expediency dictates.
A powerful, probing work by our theatre's master dramatist. Never before made available for general production, the play explores the dilemma of the creative artist in a totalitarian society by examining the relationship between four writers, friends of long standing, and the manner in which their lives have been affected by their defiance of—or acceptance of—state doctrines.