She was born in 1978 in Kragujevac.
Studied drama on Belgrade Faculty
of Dramatic Arts. As a dramaturg she
worked on plays in Belgrade National
Theatre, Slovenian National Theatre
in Maribor, BITEF Theatre, "Dusko
Radovic Theatre", and Center
for Cultural Decontamination. During
season 2003/2004 she was a dramaturg
in Project NADA (NovA DramA) in Belgrade
She is the author of plays
FAUSSE - ATTAQUE, MAL PARER (False
attack - wrong defence, performed
in National Theatre in Subotica, 2003),
MILK TOOTH OF THE EARTH (both published
in Serbian in "Scena" magazine)
and dramatizations for plays GAME
OF FOLLY (BITEF Theatre, 2005) and
LIFE? OR THEATRE? (Belgrade National
Note about "FAUSSE
- ATTAQUE, MAL PARER"
Missaud: I went to Kalemegdan Fortress
yesterday. Snow has almost melted
away. The odour of new grass is in
the air. On the foothill I found a
snowdrop. Of large, flat petals. I
peered into the corridors, spread
under the foot of the Fortress. (Beat.)
Have you ever wondered
endless tunnels and corridors - where
do they lead to? To the heart of the
tunnel. And where is it? (Beat.) Then
I saw a beautiful young woman, holding
a couple of snowdrops that had just
been picked up. A man approached her,
handing another one. She smiled. The
man had your figure. I cried: 'Claude!'
Didn't turn around. Didn't hear. They
disappeared in one of the corridors.
Immersed into the darkness.
The references on basis of which it's
possible to determine the appropriate
context of the drama FAUSSE - ATTAQUE,
MAL PARRER at first sight belong more
to the film industry then to the world
of drama and theatre. Namely, a reader
can easily get an impression that
the characters of this play written
by Marija Karaklaji} seem to come
out of a famous film noire in which,
for instance, Humphrey Bogart reached
eternal glory, such as THE MALTESE
FALKON and CASABLANCA, and it would
be very difficult to come to a conclusion
that they belong to the contemporary
drama period sovereingely ruled by
the new realism and dramaturgy of
blood and sperm. Spy nests in the
air of dramatic uncertainty at the
dawn of the war (The Second World
War in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia),
intrigues and conspiracy, feverish
fight for power of the intelligence
officers in the context of the embittered
clash of the great powers, panic search
for the information of crucial significance,
a fight which, certainly, includes
also a bed as the battlefield - all
of this is just one layer of the elements
which Marija Karaklaji} uses to make
a tense drama. To this group, as a
great and well thought-out 'spice'
we should add a local police officer
as well, who gives special freshness
and wit to the drama, as well as air
of the Balkans and charm of the typical
On the other (social) level, there
is a group of 'white Russians', first-class
decadents described the way which
broadens the spiritual field, but
also lets the author bring to the
drama unique air which indicates the
social rottenness and inertness that
always result in dramatic social changes.
The third flow, which actually is
the main story, consists of melodramatic
thread. Its basis is a well created
character of an adventurer, a fatal
heartbreaker Rene Claude, an authentic
historical character, the agent of
the French Compagnie generale de telegraphie
sans fil T.S.F, in the capital of
the Yugoslav Kingdom, but also the
founder of Belgrade Fencing Club and
according to the documents of the
Yugoslav secret police, the man who
was accused of spying activities in
Belgrade in 1941.
However, Marija Karaklajic is not
interested in re-constructing or re-defining
the history (which, by the way, was
the ambition of the major part of
so-called political theatre in the
former Yugoslavia at the beginning
of the eighties of last century);
in the precisely defined environment
in which Belgrade of 1941 resembles
Casablanca of 1943, she develops a
fine melodrama thread which, on one
hand, exceeds just a simple war story,
and on the other gives it a special,
Besides, some of the (decadent) atmosphere
in which the action of this drama
takes place - decribed indirectly
through the apparently naive and meaningless
conversations of by large blasé
figures of the pre-war Belgrade social
life, as well as the way the author
creates a cloud of mistery that, like
an aureole, encircles the protagonist
Rene Claude, seem to have their distant
models in some scenes of the drama
which, based on his own story GROBNICA
ZA BORISA DAVIDOVICA, Danilo Kis wrote,
and it gives a special charm to the
drama of this young playwright, but
also spreads a potential field of
meanings, giving space for the possible
Through the skillfully led story,
soked with dreams and visions that
like nightmare persecute the main
character of the play, but also in
a very specific way connects him with
a woman who would have fatal role
in his destiny, the author develops
an unusual, strong and highly exciting
drama interwoven with imagination
and life reality of Belgrade that
is waiting to fulfill its dark destiny,
historical facts and imaginative literal
superstructure of the convincing political
analysis of actual position of Yugoslavia
at the time in the context of the
fire caught Europe and the intimate
story of a group of people who in
this European sinking boat were trying
to live by their feelings.
The terminology taken from the sports
fencing obtains the meaning of a special
metaphor of a game in which participate
all the protagonists, a game which
contains original knights' elements
- among the other things - the knights'
honor as well, while on the other
hand it alludes an open fight, the
war with no rules. That is why the
title of the drama - FAUSSE - ATTAQUE,
MAL PARRER (False attaque, wrong defense)
acquires a sense of a polisemantic
Translated into English by B. K.
Rene Claude, agent of the French firm
Compagnie generale de telegraphie
sans fil T.S.F.
Aleksa Pencic, detective at the Belgrade
Richard Foster, agent of the English
firm 'Foster & Sons'
Claire Foster, Richard's wife
Ozren Radotic, air force major
Sofia Radotic, Ozren's wife
Mihailo Lukin, Claude's fencing assistant
at the Belgrade Fencing Club
Fiodor Mihailovich Sigunov,
Arkadiye Semyonovich Karyagin,
Alya Dubrova Karyagina, Claude's associates
First, Second, Third Lady
First, Second Gentleman
The action takes place in Belgrade,
February - March, 1941
Bare stage is surrounded by three
huge, high dark-gray walls, slightly
inclined towards the stage. Only the
indispensable objects are brought
on stage. Edges and angles of all
the properties are disproportional,
asymmetrical, distorted. The whole
space should resemble the scenery
of the German expressionist films.
Dream scenes take place in the abandoned,
two-level factory hall. The levels
are connected with steep stairs. Although
there is no labyrinth on the stage,
the pattern of Claude's moving is
similar to a labyrinth one. Unconsciously,
he acts as if he were imprisoned.
The costumes which the characters
wear in dreams are the same as in
'real' life, unless otherwise indicated.
Shadows of the actors are utmost extended,
Telegraph Department at the Belgrade
Post & Telegraph. Alya Dubrova
Karyagina in her thirties, somewhat
neurotic and Rene Claude, irresistible.
Alya Dubrova sits at the desk, turning
over the telegrams in a quick, sharp
way, not looking at Claude. Claude
walks through the room in the rhythm
of Alya's voice. He's holding a yo-yo
in his hand, pulling it up and down.
He's calm, cold-blooded.
Alya Dubrova: They might've taken
her away while she was putting up
the samovar, fainted her with a metal
rod, one strike - but placed in the
right way- and pulled her out through
the window, they might have dropped
a cart full of rotten apples straight
onto her head, they might have - an
ambush in front of her flat in Duchess
Zorka Street No. 4a - a handkerchief
filled with chloroform while she was
locking the door, they might have
- What if they miscalculated? Insufficient
dose of chloroform, an imprecise grasp
What if she was struggling,
screaming? They had to shoot her down,
decapitate her, take her away in the
bush leaving a bloody trail behind.
Claude: There is no bush in the Duchess
Alya Dubrova: They might have dug
a hole in the ground and buried her
alive, they might have killed her
at once. Short and quick - a bullet
in the head. They might have -
Claude comes to Alya, slaps her very
hard across the face.
Claude: Stop it.
Alya Dubrova shakes her head as if
addressing someone who doesn't understand
Alya Dubrova: Rene, you don't take
me seriously. At all.
Claude: Irina Petrovna set out. Without
saying goodbye. To anyone.
Alya Dubrova: How can you tell? Irina
Petrovna hated trains. Since we came
to Belgrade in nineeen-twenty, on
the freight train full of sweaty bodies
and cattle. Set out where? She would
have said goodbye to you. To me and
Varya perhaps not, but to you
Her husband knows nothing. You saw
him yesterday. Nikolai Vasilyevich's
face was dead man pale. Coming in
here, begging us to tell him what
has happened to his wife
Claude: I'm not Irina Petrovna's nanny.
Alya Dubrova: No. Nanny, no. They
might have wrapped her up and thrown
her in the Danube. In two days her
corpse will swim out, swollen and
yellow. They might have poured a petroleum
all over her and set her on fire,
they might have imprisoned her in
some basement full of rats, they might
Claude: All right, who? Who drowned
and poisoned her, chopped off her
leg and set Irina Petrovna on fire?
Alja Dubrova: Does it matter? The
same will happen to us
in the Danube, to
serve as fish food. They might chop
off our -
Claude slaps Alya Dubrova across her
face again. Alya Dubrova smiles. Caresses
Alya Dubrova: How strong you are!
I can feel it through your shirt
And your right arm is stronger than
the left one. Because of the saber?
Claude draws Alya Dubrova closer to
him. Kisses her passionately. Arkadiye
Semyonovich Karyagin enters, holding
a few telegrams in his hand. He's
the same age as his wife, slightly
effeminate. On seeing Arkadiye Semyonovich,
the lovers back away from each other.
Karyagin is trying not to betray his
Karyagin: Alya Dubrova! My dear Alya
Dubrova, I asked you to bring me those
telegrams an hour ago.
Alya Dubrova: My sweet Arkadiye Semionovich,
I haven't copied them. Yet.
Karyagin: My dearest Alya Dubrova,
Marfa Yegorovna and I have been doing
very hard work for the past two hours.
I cannot enter the telegrams into
the protocol unless I have them!
Alya Dubrova (hands the telegrams
to Arkadiye Semionovich): My beloved
Arkadiye Semyo-novich, here you are.
I oblige myself to bring you the rest
as soon as I've finished.
Claude: Any new telegrams?
Karyagin: Hitler invited Cvetkovic
and Cincar-Markovic to Salzburg, on
15th February. It came yesterday.
Claude: I saw that one. Anything else?
Karyagin: This one came through the
main radio-telegraph. For Rome.
Claude: Read it.
Karyagin: 'Vlada STOP Being in Rome,
buy me that medicine STOP I forgot
its name STOP But you know which one
STOP The one from the last time STOP
My ulcer's killing me STOP Mile.'
Claude: Give the one from yesterday
to Alya, to copy it.
Karyagin: My loving Alya, will you
Alya Dubrova: But certainly.
Karyagin: Take those telegrams to
Marfa Yegorovna by yourself?
Alya Dubrova leaves in anger. Throughout
the following, Claude is not hostile
towards Karyagin. On the contrary.
Karyagin: You and my wife
Rene, I begged you
Claude: Don't start again.
Karyagin (in harsh voice): Why didn't
you answer my letter?
Claude: I was indisposed.
Karyagin: You're lying, Rene. I saw
you. Yesterday. At Kalemegdan Fortress.
(He can't remember
the name.) Her husband is an employee
of the Ministry of Transportation.
Claude: Mr. Mirkovic invited me for
an afternoon walk. Personally. And
yes, Mrs. Mirkovic accompanied us.
As well as several of our acquaintances.
As you could have seen.
Karyagin: And then you and Mrs. Mirkovic
slowed your pace down, behind all
of them, and then you, secretly, for
no one to see, took a small white
rosebud out of your pocket. In the
middle of February! Her eyes glared
with delight and then you -
Claude: Arkadiye, I asked you not
to. Show up again. What were you doing
this time? Selling chick-peas?
Karyagin: I was a park cleaner. You
didn't notice me, Rene, but I saw
Mrs. Mirkovic stretching her tiny
little hand out of her muff, taking
the rosebud from you. Carelessly.
She tingled on the thorn. And you
quickly covered her finger with your
white batiste handkerchief, the one
with embroidered monogram. Then you
hasten your pace to catch up with
the others. Was it like that? Deny
Claude is silent.
Karyagin: Then I came up to the place
where you were standing. A drop of
blood on the snow. I covered it down,
Rene. (Pause.) You're silent? Where
is your white batiste handkerchief?
(Pause.) Why didn't you answer my
Claude: Try to understand
takes time for one to comprehend
from anything he's ever
a weak man, Arkadiye
put in words... what
Karyagin: I begged you
(Leans in to Claude, grasps
his hand.) At evenings, curve of her
palm bears a touch of your scent.
Claude slowly pulls away from Arkadiye.
Varvara Konovnicina enters, confidently,
with her head up high. She wears a
worn-out sable-fur coat. She's in
her late twenties.
Varvara Konovnicina: It's so pleasant
- outdoors. Rime, land is freezing,
but again - pleasant. And the air
- fresh. Ah! The hoar-frost all over
Karyagin comes to Varvara Konovnicina
and kisses her hand. Claude is indifferent.
Karyagin: Varvara Konovnicina, charming
Varvara Konovnicina: Where is Alya
Dubrova? Call her, Arkadiye Semyonovich.
I've got something important to say.
About Irina Petrovna.
Claude: Any news?
Varvara Konovnicina: Call her, Arkadiye
Semionovich, then you'll hear.
Karyagin I'm going, I'm going.
Karyagin leaves. Varvara Konovnicina
speaks after a short break.
Varvara Konovnicina: The dead-line
is today. Have you made up your mind?
Claude: I'd been thinking, Varvara
Konovnicina. Having second thoughts.
Haven't slept all night long.
Varvara Konovnicina: And?
Claude: I decided.
Claude: Varya -
Varvara Konovnicina: Yes?
Claude: Varya, I shall change my tailor.
Varvara Konovnicina: You'll change
Claude: My trousers are about a quarter
shorter than they should be. Again.
Varvara Konovnicina: You're making
jokes out of
Claude: Not at all. Take a look.
Varvara Konovnicina: Claude, it's
your honor we're talking about.
Claude: And my health, too.
Varvara Konovnicina: Ten seconds:
them or me.
Claude: This windy morning I said
to myself - don't take a carriage,
go for a stroll, fill your lungs with
this chilly fresh air. And I caught
such a cold all over my legs
Varvara Konovnicina: That's it. Right
now, I'm calling -
Claude: Who? I suggest 'Politika'.
They sell best. (Claude takes the
telephone, gives the receiver to Varvara
Konovnicina. She gazes at him, helplessly.
Claude hangs up.) It's not the first
time. The last ones - just the same:
a quarter shorter. For this summer
- I want a new suit. A beige one.
Claude sits on the desk, takes a yo-yo
Varvara Konovnicina: The photographs
might compromise you.
Claude: As far as I can remember,
I'm not the only one nude. Have I
told you that Francoise simply adores
Varvara Konovnicina: My face is not
Claude: She comes up to me and stands
on her hind legs. Tries to catch it.
Not achieving her goal. Mostly. It
keeps her content.
Varvara Konovnicina: Your French puddle
really knows how to have fun. All
Claude, I will
Claude: I found a thorn yesterday.
Stuck on the inner side of her leather
collar. Poor Francoise. I'll buy her
a new collar today. A firm metal one.
(Claude stops playing with yo-yo.
Stands up. Intently examines Varvara
Konovnicina's eyes.) Posing to your
sister while she was studying photography
and I haven't got any of those photos.
Why is it so? I want them. Immensely.
Varvara Konovnicina: Outside - ice.
A rock. But inside - flame. Burning
Claude reaches out to Varvara Konovnicina,
takes her in his arms. Kisses her.
Out of stage there is some rumour,
a voice of Alya Dubrova: 'Fiodor Ivanovich,
you're here!' Claude and Varvara Konovnicina
pull away. Sigunov, Alya Dubrova and
Karyagin enter. Sigunov's hair is
almost grey: he might be forty as
well as sixty. He constantly turns
Sigunov: Looks like a snowstorm is
coming. And the Danube will frost
up, all over.
Alya Dubrova: My dear. (Cordially
kisses Varvara Konovnicina.) Quick,
tell us. What have you heard?
Varvara Konovnicina: I met Nikolai
Vasilyevich this morning. In front
of the Ministry of Army & Navy.
When he saw me, he came up to me and
grabbed my hand, looking into my eyes
with sadness. Silently. For almost
a minute. Then he turned his back
to me and entered the Ministry. Without
Varvara Konovnicina: That's all. (Pause.)
Don't you see? He did it! He murdered
Claude: Why would anyone, especially
Nikolai Vasilyevich, murder -
Varvara Konovnicina: He might have
become suspicious. Or she confessed.
He might be - working for the Soviets.
Sigunov: That - that with the Soviets
- should be investigated.
Varvara Konovnicina: How would a husband
react on his wife's sudden disappearance?
He'd be in deep sorrow. What about
Nikolai Vasilyevich? He's overcome
with grief! And what for? To avoid
Alya Dubrova: In two days - the corpse
from the Danube
Claude: Nikolai Vasilyevich went to
the Belgrade Police Office, didn't
Sigunov: If the Soviets are involved,
the whole Belgrade Police Office,
with all its agents won't be much
of a help. (In low voice.) This morning
- two of them followed me. From my
house up to here. Agents. The Soviet
Claude: You met the boy who delivers
newspaper and the butcher boy again.
Sigunov: You're so naive. I can tell.
Unmistakably. Twenty years ago, being
on the ship with general Vrangel I
saw two of them. Wearing uniforms
of South Russia Armed Forces. They
were writing down all the time. Like
- diary or something. But I knew -
they were writing down the number
of officers, names, ranks, everything.
My left eye was twitching up and down.
Like this, see? Ever since, when I
come upon - my left eye - as if mad.
That's how I know. Unmistakably. This
morning, I thought it would jump right
out of my eye-socket.
Kariagin: And the Danube - riming
Sigunov: Frosting up all over.
Karyagin: It's said - in ice a corpse
keeps a long-lasting freshness. Imagine,
you're on the Danube and your foot
slips. You look down and what do you
see? Irina Petrovna. Staring at you,
right out of the water.
Alya Dubrova: It's said - in a death
rattle, a victim can write a name.
Of a murderer. Irina Petrovna had
Varvara Konovnicina: With nails -
in ice. So it can be read.
Claude: I'll go skating tomorrow.
Anyone wants to join me?
Alya Dubrova: And whose name shall
Karyagin: If Irina Petrovna is really
Sigunov Does it matter?
Varvara Konovnicina: Whose?
Everyone stands still. Claude takes
his yo-yo, pulls it up and down.
In the Belgrade Fencing Club several
men and women are fencing. Claude
fights with Mihailo Lukin, a young
assistant. In his appearance and outfit,
not very obvious, Mihailo imitates
Claude: No, no, Michele. You'll do
touché seconde, and me parer
Mihailo: Mihailo, Mr. Claude.
Claude: Pardon me.
They fence. Claude is speaking, without
interrupting the duel.
Claude: Now - pas croise, than enveloppement
circulaire. Watch out, Michele, this
is attaque direct. Mal parer, Michele!
Claude stops. Takes off his mask.
Claude: Your concentration is at an
extremely low rate.
Lukin: It'll pass.
Claude: I hope so, Michele. The Academy
is within three days.
Lukin: Mihailo, Mr. Claude.
A fifteen years old Girl comes to
Girl: Mr. Claude, you promised I'd
practice with you, personally.
Claude: Would you accept Mr. Lukin
instead, just for tonight?
Girl: No, no! I want you.
Claude: All right. Take your foil.
Suddenly, Claude slightly recoils,
as if he saw someone. Or something.
Claude: Miss Fotiric, I apologize
for not being able to practice with
Mihailo: Miss Fotiric, I am at your
Girl (to Mihailo): Oh, you awful,
Girl stubs onto floor and runs away.
Claude laughs. Everyone, including
Mihailo, is leaving. Missaud, dressed
in black mackintosh, with a soft hat
on his head, enters. No one pays attention
to him. Whilst conversation, Missaud
examines foils and sabres.
Missaud: You were careless. The whole
city rumours of Irina Petrovna.
Missaud: Nikolai Vasilyevich Orlov
is under surveillance. It's been found
out that certain, top secret information
leak out of the Ministry. Disclosing
Orlov's wife was the matter of time.
Claude: Why didn't you let me know?
Missaud: There was no time.
Claude: What does it mean? Tomorrow
I might not find half of my assistants?
Missaud: Blindly devoted. Your Francoise
has a great competition. (Pause.)
After what had happened, you should
have stopped the rumours.
Claude: You shouldn't have removed
Missaud: Don't tell me that affects
Claude: Irina Petrovna was a friend
Missaud: And your lover. You were
using her. Unscrupulously. What kind
of ethical questions do you raise,
Claude? (Beat.) You have modern equipment.
Claude: It could have been done in
some other way, Missaud.
Missaud: You have your own, interesting
methods. Mine are not so
but they are proven. (Beat.) These
sabres - Russian ones?
Claude: Yes. Genuine Kozakian sabres.
Missaud: Naturally. You can afford
it. (Beat.) In a couple of days a
Richard Foster is coming
to Belgrade. Agent of the English
firm "Foster & Sons".
I want to know all: who sends him,
what for, why Belgrade. His wife,
here in this
middle of nowhere,
might need some amusement. You'll
be recommended. As an outstanding
fencer. Undoubtedly, you'll find your
way. (Missaud starts towards the exit.
Stops. Comes back.) I almost forgot:
a letter from Irina Petrovna. For
you. (Hands a letter to Claude.) The
last wish, you might say. Touching.
Claude: You read it?
Missaud: It was open.
Lively atmosphere in Sofia Radotic's
salon. The guests are being jovial,
laughing out loudly. Sofia Radotic,
in her late thirties, dresses and
poses as if ten years younger. Her
husband, Ozren Radotic, five or six
years elder, has a strict, soldier
attitude. Of a constrained courteousness.
Claude intently listens to the conversation.
He's mostly silent.
Sofia: I find him a very attractive
man. That fervent eyes, lively mimic,
a roguish lock of hair
First Lady: And charmingly cut moustache.
Ozren: My wife finds Adolph Hitler
to be an attractive man? And admits
it in public?
Sofia: For God's sake, Ozren, you're
so old-fashioned. In public - so what?
Second Lady: Anyway, he's certainly
much more handsome than that swollen
(She can't remember
First Gentleman: Churchill.
Third Lady: Generally, concerning
that matter, the situation in Europe
is rather gloomy. One can't tell who
Second Lady: You mean, whose stomach
is more stout.
A sigh of disappointment among ladies.
First Lady: Imagine - we got occupied.
A rumour of disapproval among men.
Second Gentleman: Miss Vidic, what
are you saying? To get occupied? By
First Lady: That's what I'm telling
you: it matters. In the morning, when
I lean through the window to water
my petunias, I care whether gaze at
some plump Soviet soldier or, perhaps,
a meager English one.
Second Lady: England is too far away.
Ozren: England is our ally.
Third Lady: And the Russians we've
Sofia: Our Russians are imperial ones:
well-behaved, cultured, fond of arts.
Claude, your assistants are members
of some literary circle. Right?
Claude: No. As far as I know.
Second Lady: But these people in Russia,
(She can't remember the
name.) What are the Russians in Russia
First Gentleman: Communists.
Second Lady: People say they don't
believe in God. Not going to church,
eating with their fingers
don't even bath. Can you imagine that
kind of people hanging around here?
First Gentleman: Considering the politics
of the Regency and the Royal Government,
'that kind' will hardly ever hang
around here. The Axis Powers more
Sofia: And why not? What's wrong with
the Italians? The other day, in a
fashion journal, I glanced just marvelous
cloths they had. If come, they'll
bring us lace, silk -
A sudden silence. Sofia looks around
Ozren: Sofia, in such an
situation, when Italy has occupied
Albania, went to war against our brethren
Greeks and being literally, but literally
at our doors, I find it at least improper
to say -
Sofia: Oh, your mean tales again.
Aleksa Pencic, seemingly the same
age as Ozren, enters the room. Subtle,
well-mannered. Keeps on smiling.
Sofia (holds out her hand for a kiss):
Ah, Mr. Pencic, just in time! You'll
be on my side. Everyone is irritated,
and all I've said was: 'Italians,
on coming to Belgrade, will convey
plenty of precious textiles. The Venice
black lace for evening toilettes.'
Pencic: Mrs. Radotic, the Venice lace
can be imported as well. There's no
need for the Italians to carry it.
Personally. I'd keep the Kingdom of
Yugoslavia far off, at a remote distance.
From everyone. Especially the Italians.
Ozren: From our allies, too? It's
the matter of time for the Regency
and duke Paul to join the Tripartite
Treaty. What kind of distance are
Pencic: A wise one, Mr. Radotic.
First Lady: Duke Paul is a weakling.
An English student! Well-behaved,
What we need
Pencic: Duke Paul endeavors to keep
Yugoslavia out of war.
Sofia: Enough! I want some merry stories.
Mr. Pencic, is there any news on Irina
Petrovna Orlova's disappearance?
Pencic: The Police Office is investigating
the case. As soon as we find out something
for certain, you'll be the first one
to know. You
and Mr. Claude,
Claude: Thank you.
Third Lady: Mr. Pencic, I was studying
Orlova's case. And I came to
certain conclusions, so to say. Yes,
I'll bring them out. (Beat.) A love
triangle. Classical. A husband, a
wife and a lover. You're wasting your
time searching for Irina Petrovna.
She ran off. With her lover. To England,
Pencic: Well, what an extremely interesting
thing. That... about the lover. (Beat.)
Speaking of Englishmen, I've heard
some rumors on a certain Poster, Roster,
Foster or what's-his-name arrival
Agent of an English
firm. Have you heard of it? By chance,
(Everyone shake their heads.) Mr.
Claude: What were we supposed to hear?
Pencic: Nothing, nothing. (Self -
blaming.) My curiosity
for detectives, even those natural
human necessities are forbidden. Misinterpreted.
Sofia: What is so intriguing about
Pencic: A beautiful wife. People say.
Sofia (to the Second Lady): Have I
told you Mr. Claude was so kind to
bring me "La mode exclusive",
the latest issue?
Pencic: Charming, indeed. Any latest
issues on fishing? For me, Mr. Claude.
Claude: Unfortunately, not. But on
horse breeding, picking mushrooms,
pruning fruit trees, or
Pay me a visit, Mr. Pencic.
Claude is about to leave.
Sofia: You're off? Already?
Sofia follows Claude.
Claude (in low, passionate voice):
May I count on you?
Sofia (in low voice): Completely.
Wednesday, at six.
Claude leaves. Sofia joins the guests.
Ozren (to the First Gentleman): I'm
telling you, "hurricanes"
with eight machine-guns are much more
lethal hunters than "messerschmidts".
Proven and demonstrated in the Battle
Sofia: Stop talking about that war
as if it's going to happen to us.
Ozren: Good Lord, Sofia, if Germany
and Italy send the airplanes, what
do you think they'll bomb us with?
The Venice lace?
Sofia: What else?
Formal Fencing Academy. Among
the audience is notable presence of
Richard and Claire Foster. In his
forty-something Richard Foster makes
an impression of blasé, expressionless
man; Claire Foster, seven or eight
years younger than her husband, is
highly refined and restrained.
Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen,
now you'll see the central part of
the Fencing Academy. The fencers from
Belgrade fencing clubs and sections
will demonstrate their technique and
skillfulness in fights with foil.
The first ones to appear are Mr. Rene
Claude and Mr. Mihailo Lukin, from
the Belgrade Fencing Club.
Claude and Mihailo enter, in full
fencing equipment. They perform the
fight they were practicing. On finishing,
an applause is heard.
Announcer: Duke Ivan Vladimirovitch
Maksutov and Mr. Rastislav Djuricic,
the Yugoslav Fencing Club 'Lucien
Fencers appear, the duel begins. Claude
returns in informal clothes.
Sigunov: A gentleman took off his
bowler hat, the other one wiped his
forehead with a plaid handkerchief,
Miss Zikic was yawning, Mrs. Krasic
and Mrs. Pantelic were gossiping Miss
Zikic, Mr. Pesterac secretly passed
a note to Mrs. Predic, Mr. Mitic laughed
loudly, a lady was rummaging through
her purse, Mr. Strajnic said Lukin
was funny, Mrs. Vickovic dropped down
her powder box, a gentleman loosened
his tie, Mr. Blaznavac picked up Mrs.
Vickovic's powder-box -
Claude: Fiodor Ivanovich, I only wanted
to know if anyone in the audience
Sigunov: I was just about to say:
the gentleman coming towards us.
Sigunov moves away.
Foster: Mr. Claude, let me introduce
myself: Richard Foster, agent of the
English firm 'Foster & Sons'.
My wife, Claire.
Claude bows. Mihailo appears. His
resemblance to Claude in gesture,
clothing, hairstyling is evident.
Claude addresses him before he approaches.
Claude: Michele, take the equipment.
Mihailo: Right, Mr. Claude.
Foster: We are impressed by your skills.
How long have you been fencing?
Claude: Since I was twelve.
Foster: Claire and I arrived at Belgrade
a few days ago and we intend to remain.
For a while. I'll be over-occupied
with my business arrangements and
I'm afraid my lovely wife will be
left over with lots of boring spare
time. You are certainly familiar with
that - How long have you been here?
Claude: For almost ten years.
Foster: Then you might understand.
Mr. Claude, would you accept to give
fencing lessons to Claire?
Claude: Mr. Foster, it'll be a great
pleasure. Madame has been fencing
Claire: Whenever the occasions allowed
Foster: The nature of my mercantile
business forced us to change our domicile
frequently. So, can I rely on you?
Claude (bows): In every way.
Announcer: Mr. Eugenie Mihailovitch
Davidov and Mr. Dusan Bozic, Fencing
Section of the Belgrade Sport Club
The next fencers appear on the stage.
Richard and Claire Foster move away.
Alya Dubrova comes to Claude.
Alya Dubrova: Did you see it? Her
hair-pin. (Claude doesn't get it.)
The lady you were standing with.
Claude: She had a hair-pin?
Alya Dubrova: She had - Gamaion. A
foretelling bird. With human face.
Claude: Alya Dubrova, I find your
enigmas to be rather appalling.
Alya Dubrova: Don't try to seduce
me, Rene. It was Gamaion. Foretelling
fright, misfortune, death. My nanny
knows. The stories went on, when she
was young. A long long time ago, an
old woman, named Akulina, had Gamaion.
Made of an elder tree. Of a divine
visage. At nights, in her cottage,
a peculiar murmur was heard. Gamaion.
Chanting and foretelling: That the
Tatarians would attack the village,
burn down all the houses, slaughter
all living. Chanting - decline of
innocents. One night, villagers broke
into Akulina's cottage. Demolished
Gamaion. Into pieces. Old woman Akulina
got tied up and stoned. A witch.
Claude: And what happened to the village?
Alya Dubrova: In a few days - the
Tatarians attacked. Burnt it down.
And slaughtered. All the living.
Claude laughs loudly.
Alya Dubrova: Rene, this hair-pin
Claude's dream. He's at the lower
level of the fabric hall. Darkness
is all around. Abruptly, lights come
up on some parts of the stage at both
levels, revealing all of the characters
as devotedly knocking, removing, putting
together. It cannot be seen what.
Everyone wears white gloves. Claude
watches them in silence. After a short
while, the scene fades away in darkness
again. On the higher level Claire
Claire (giggles): Not chanting, but
snarling. (In a serious voice.) Claude,
begone. Quick, right away!
Out of the stage a shot is heard.
Claire drops down.
Claude sets forth, but suddenly comes
to a halt as if a wall rose ahead
of him. Helplessly turns around. Missaud
appears. He is also wearing white
Missaud: You may leave. Naturally.
But... you want to know who's the
Missaud backs away. Stops.
Missaud: Set off right, then take
left, then right again. You'll get
Missaud leaves. Claude moves as were
told. At the end of the route the
lights up the stage in front of him.
Claire sits on the chair, cutting
out a piece of cloth. Beside her,
at the table, Richard scrapes some
wooden articles. He doesn't show to
notice Claude's appearance by any
Claude (joyfully): You're -
Claire (not interrupting her work):
Yes, I found him. On the bank. Bits
of ice all over his face. And tiny
red line around his neck. Strangled.
Before being thrown into the Danube.
Claude: Who? Who are you talking about?
Claire: I've made some sketches. Take
Claire hands a piece of paper over
Claude: Who's this?
Claire: Resembles you. The same marked
cheekbones. But perhaps it's out of
- you know. Your features would be
quite unlike. Depending on means.
But - strangled - quite unlike. Then
again - who can tell. I'll make a
sketch of you. Would you let me?
Claire (smiles): No, not now.
Claude: What are you cutting out?
Claire: My husband
was with me. He's waiting for you.
Claire keeps on cutting. Pencic comes.
Pencic: Mr. Claude, what a tragedy.
To lose two assistants within a -
Claude glazes at Pencic with a lack
Pencic: You haven't heard yet? Sigunov
was found this morning. On the river
Claude: Fedya? That's not true! You're
Pencic: Foster found him.
Pencic comes to Foster. Hands some
pieces of wood to him.
Foster (to Claude): Such a merry sight.
A grandfather took his grandson and
his French puddle out for a morning
walk. Alongside the Danube. The puddle
runs around, the boy is after her.
The puddle stops. Starts barking.
The boy comes. Sees. Fiodor Ivanovich.
Such a merry sight. (Beat.) My wife
told you she was with me. Saw it first.
(Pause.) Don't believe her. Claire,
sometimes, imagines things
didn't happen. You understand me?
She was sleeping. Wasn't with me.
She couldn't see.
Pencic: Do you go fishing?
Pencic: When it becomes warm, you
might join me. The waters of Danube
are exciting, rich in catch. One never
knows what one might fish in: carp,
perch, bream or
Foster and Pencic giggle.
Claude: It's not funny. Do you hear
me? It's not funny! (The giggling
continues.) What are you working at?
What are you making? Who's this person
on the drawing?
All of a sudden, everything freezes.
And everyone. But Claude. Missaud
appears. Claude comes towards him.
Stops. Until the end of the scene,
the lights go dim. On everything.
Missaud: They're getting ready. For
Claude: What overthrow?
Missaud: Revolutionary one.
Claude: Against whom?
Missaud: Against you.
Missaud: You don't believe me. (Beat.)
Those features on the drawing
Don't you recognize them?
Missaud: Although, it depends on means.
Claude and Claire are fencing.
Claire (smiles): You're a fascist?
Claude: Is it a verdict?
Claire: Pure curiosity.
Claude: Why do you think that?
Claire: You're working for Vichy.
Claude: I'm working for France.
Claire: Touché. Fascist - patriot.
Claude: All fascists are patriots.
Claire: That's what they say.
Claude: And think. I'm not an adherent
of totalitarian ideologies. You're
holding the guard too low. How long
are you going to stay in Belgrade?
Claire: It depends. On Richard and
Claude: Are there many? Duties.
Claire: Not too long. I hope.
Claude: I see. People are plain, uncultured,
barbaric a bit. But amusing. If you're
staying. For a while. How long did
you say? A couple of weeks?
Claire: Parer prime.
Claude: Do not have any dresses made.
I've changed the third tailor. Touché
Claire: A sudden change. From Egypt
- to Yugoslavia. And where to - afterwards?
Claude: You're opening up. Over-much.
Point the end at me.
Claire: You're not coming back to
your homeland? The press reports and
the stories spreading are quite
queer, you might say. For a common
spectator it's hard to believe that
things like these happen. In France.
Claude: What does English press write?
Claire: New order. Political parties
forbidden, judicature lost its independence.
L'attaque de droite. Chief of the
state nominates and suspends state
officials the way he wants. Feinte
d'attaque. Prefects imprison the ones
under suspicion of endangering safety
of the state. People being sentenced
on expressing their opposite opinion.
A heretic one. The Inquisition. Attaque
Claude: En garde.
Claire: And the company you're working
for - Compagnie generale de
Claude: - de telegraphie sans fil
Claire: - after the break of the Third
Republic, I suppose, vis inertiae,
kept on collaborating with the occupational
government. Fascistic one, but - French.
And all for welfare of the nation.
Claude (laughs): Mrs. Foster, your
sense for humanity is touching. But
Vichy regime still differs from nationalsocialism.
Claire: True. Peten hasn't got military
Claude: Fausse-attaque. Got you.
Claire: Have you been fencing in Egypt?
Claude: You've been in Africa?
Claude: But in Russia
Claire takes the hair-pin out of her
Claire: So you know. A Russian mythology
bird. It's a gift. On bazaar, in Istanbul,
from an old lady selling mottled silken
scarves. Think she was Russian. (Beat.)
Look. As a harpy. Of a male visage.
(Beat.) It looks like you a bit. The
tall forehead. The same marked cheekbones.
But eyes. (She draws closer to Claude,
glances with her fingers over Claude's
face.) No, your eyes are minute. Like
fox's. (Beat.) Have you ever gone
fox-hunting? As a little girl, on
my uncle's land, I used to go hunting.
With hound-dogs. My uncle would seat
me on a horse, ahead of him. What
a rejoice! Chasing poor animals ravingly.
Till the exhaustion.
or yours? Riposte.
Claire: This bird does resemble you.
By the shape of her head. As well.
Claude: You can make some sketches.
If you want to.
Claire: How did you know I make drawings?
Claude: You told me.
Claire: I didn't. I'm almost sure
I didn't. Anyway. Would you let me?
Claire: No, not now.
Claude stops. Puts his foil down.
Claire: Mr. Claude, I deserve compliments.
Claude: I admit. But your inner side
is not covered up. You open up easily.
For a stroke.
Pencic and Mihailo meet at a hidden
Mihailo: I think that's all.
Pencic: Think or know? (Pause.) You
cannot know, Mr. Lukin, hence he didn't
even let you come close. How many
times have I told you: sneak up to
people from the back. Silently. As
a cat. When cautious is insensible,
surprises are quick and effective.
Mihailo: I'm not a policeman.
Pencic: Obviously: you compensate
the lack of professionalism with a
patriotic ardent. It's already a notorious
fact that Foster employed him as a
master of fencing. Anything else?
Mihailo: During the last week, Mrs.
Drazic came to the training twice.
The second time she brought a little
chocolate rabbit wrapped up in red
tinfoil. They arranged meeting, at
her place, when Mr. Drazic went to
'About those confidential affairs'
- That's what she said. Exactly. At
Mrs. Radotic's place -
Pencic: He was there last Wednesday,
from six till seven p.m. I know. Anything
Mihailo: Mr. Pencic, do not consider
me to be ingratitude, but... The living
expenses are increasing.
Pencic: Mr. Lukin, your devotion to
the homeland is much too dear. Already.
Mihailo: Patriotic duty's, undoubtedly,
a priority. But the incomes of a law
senior are more than miserable.
Pencic: Your incomes are only to be
envied by your colleagues with twenty
years of experience. How much?
Mihailo's whispered request is accompanied
by Pencic's sigh.
Pencic: Settled. (Cheerfully.) Imagine
what happened just the other day.
One of my agents was stubbornly convincing
me that last Friday, when we met,
I actually was with Claude. Personally.
It took me half an hour to reassure
him it was you.
Mihailo (in sour voice): Really don't
know how we could be mistaken.
Pencic: Neither do I. He claims you
have Claude's figure, clothes, hairstyle.
Told him it was a pure coincidence.
What a funny joke.
Pencic: A gentleman with a soft hat
you haven't seen him?
not lately. Since
Pencic: The night you haven't heard
what they were talking about. Oh.
Pardon me. The night you didn't even
Mihailo: Who is he?
Pencic: A Frenchman. Alleged. We're
checking out on him.
Pencic takes the amount of paper bags
out of his pocket, gives it to Mihailo.
Mihailo: Thank you.
Pencic: We'll be in touch. (Cheerfully.)
Take a good care. Imagine, we get
an order to arrest Claude. And my
men mistake you for him. Again. By
chance. (Laughs.) What a funny joke.
Claude and Pencic among musical
boxes. Paying a visit to Richard Foster.
Relaxed conversation lasts for a while.
Foster: This one is Nicole Freres,
1853. The boxes from the Brothers
Nicole Manufacture are highly estimated.
They're certainly among the most meticulous
and refined handwork in the nineteenth
century. Not manufactured any more.
Foster opens a music box.
Claude: Aren't you afraid they might
get damaged? Considering your frequent
Foster: I startle every and each time
the train abruptly stops or the carrier
lifts the luggage carelessly. I'm
nervous, unbearable throughout the
journey. My wife knows. But one can
learn to live at risk. On account
Pencic: Just like fishing. There's
always a risk. Not to catch.
Claude: I thought the greatest pleasure
for a hunter is - playing with fish.
Intense expectation. Lurking. Everything
else - a matter of luck. And chance.
Pencic: If you predestine place, time
of the day, hour, with mathematical
preciseness and take for account certain
number of unpredictable circumstances,
as, for instance, sudden change of
weather, luck factor becomes miniscule.
But one should know
to catch. Get to know his habits,
where spawn, when feed. And the most
essential - what bait to use. Mr.
Foster, do you go fishing?
Pencic: When it warms up, you may
join me. The waters of Danube are
Claude (as if reciting text learnt
by heart): - exciting, rich in catch.
One never knows what might fish in:
carp, perch, bream or -
Claude stops, struck by what he has
just said. Pencic is taken by surprise.
Foster: By fishing I keep the lower
parts of my personality content. I've
always found it to be somewhat barbaric
hobby. As well as hunting.
Pencic: For fishing, one should be
idle. Like me. But your occupation
surely doesn't leave you any spare
(Beat.) And your firm is
doing well? Expands?
Foster: My father considers opening
a branch-office for the Balkans. That's
why I'm here. To do some research
on the market.
Pencic: There is an interest? In these
Foster: There's always some passionate
Pencic: You must be a remarkably brave
man, Mr. Foster. Travelling abroad,
nowadays, is more than hazardous.
Foster: Yugoslavia is safe.
Pencic: For the time being, yes. (Beat.)
Over the last month I've been reading
in papers about the great successes
of English army down in the North
Africa. That Mavel, Pavel -
Foster: Vavel. General Archibald Vavel.
Pencic: One victory after another.
But - how long?
Foster: You're doubting the superiority
of British forces over the Italian
Pencic: Armed forces. But if Vavel
get an order to send the squadrons
over to the Albanian front, to help
the Greeks, it might stop his invasion.
(Beat.) But. There are some other
solutions. For the south of the Balkans.
For instance, Yugoslavia might go
to war on the allied side, take the
Italians and Albania in rear and open
a new front. It might change the course
of war. (Beat.) I guess Churchill
would agree to?
Foster: If you say so. I consider
going or not going to war to be an
interior question of the Kingdom of
Yugoslavia. (Glances at his watch.)
Mr. Claude, I think it's time to give
a lesson to Claire. I'm truly grateful
to you. Without fencing she'd be desperately
Claude: Mrs. Foster is a very good
Foster: Mr. Pencic, you will excuse
Pencic: Of course, of course. Pardon
me once again for coming without sending
a word. Didn't know you already had
Claude: It was a pleasure. To learn
something about fishing.
Claude, on the opposite part of the
stage, meets Claire, sitting, plunged
in her thoughts. She's holding a foil.
Claude: En garde. (Claire doesn't
move.) You're not in the mood for
fight today? Alright. We'll discuss
the position of general Vavel's troops.
You think Germans would send their
reinforcements over to the Italians?
Claude: Obviously not.
Claire: Mr. Claude, do you have dreams?
Claude slightly recoils. Attentively
examines Claire's face.
Claude: Why do you ask?
Claire: So - you do have dreams. Bad
Claude: Hardly ever.
Claire: Two nights. In turn. Walking
through a park. Through a hedge. Little
branches are sharp, I'm touching them.
All of a sudden a keen pain, a long
thin scratch on the forefinger. No
blood. Just want to get out turning
to the park-gate but one more curve,
one more... Panting. Another turn
and I see a brown-hair boy with a
birthmark below his lower lip. He's
laughing, pointing the direction which
I follow, but at the end - a dead-end
and the boy. Squealingly laughing,
pointing with his hand. I wander how
he could get there before me and I
turn. To the new corridor and at the
bottom the boy's waiting again - I
see the gate and I realise he cannot
be the only one. I start running,
headlong, toppling little brown figures
with a birthmark below the lower lip
and the hedge walls are slowly coming
closer, branches becoming longer and
longer scratching me all over the
face. The air is hot. It enters into
my nostrils throbbing through my wide
opened mouth. I swallow it. Like a
fish. Cannot hear a squealing laughing
any longer, I stride and I don't move.
The hedge is getting closer and closer
to me, I cannot breathe. One more
stride one more breath. A plain. A
stone dike coming up to. I'm falling
all the way down for three or four
seconds. I breathe sharp, cold air
of the cave. Of frozen vault and frozen
walls. I come closer to me. Multiplied.
Hundreds of thousands of me. Everybody's
looking at me. Laughing. I'm laughing
at them. Then I get serious and ask
myself which is the real one, and
they all get serious. Wondering. And
I realise that I'm the reflection
of one and only Claire. But which
is the real one?
A silence. Claire lifts up her head
to gaze at Claude. He kisses her.
Claude: You have to go back. To find
out which one I kissed.
Claire: To the cave
be only one. Entry. (Silence.) Is
Sofia is siting on the sofa, flicking
through a journal. Ozren's walking
up and down.
Sofia (not looking at Ozren): Good
Lord, Ozren, what will one do in Zajecar?
Ozren: See one's mother.
Sofia: One has seen one's mother.
Ozren: Once again. And one's aunt
and brothers and sisters in law. See
Sofia: And to rot in that
Ozren: You won't rot. For two or three
months. Why rot?
Sofia: Two or three months? In the
midst of the ball season in the French
Ozren: Just think: sleeping over in
your childhood home. In the morning,
around four or five, a rooster rouses
you up, you open the window and fill
your lungs with fresh country air.
What a pleasure! Then you set about
housework, helping your mother - you
know: sweep up the yard, feed up the
chickens, clean up the pigsty. It's
a hard work, I know, it takes time,
but then again, it makes you feel
so good. So good!
Sofia: Have I told you the next ball
is the masked one? Just like the last
March, remember? Oh! I forgot: you
weren't there. Ozren, the ball is
twenty three days. And
I still don't have the slightest idea
what costume to wear.
Ozren: And throughout the day - there's
always something to do: in the house,
around the house, cook the meal, knead
a bread. And when you're all done,
you can just sit down and spin some
wool, out of pure pleasure.
Sofia: I was madame Pompadour and
the last ball
Everyone complimented on me. Each
and every flounce was perfectly sewn.
Mr. Mijuskovic had noticed. He's a
historian, you know. He knows about
Ozren: And in the evening you set
about milking a cow: you draw that
udder, pull those little teats, whilst
milk leaks down your arm. Such a joy!
And then you meet the abundance right
on your dinner table: eggs, pork,
beans, onion, poultry, cheese, peas
- everything to your heart's content.
Even more delicious, knowing you've
grown it with your own bare hands.
Sofia: Only the crinoline was really
tight. Especially while dancing the
minuet. But Mr. Petrovic, the dance
teacher, you know, said I was tres
Ozren: And afterwards, if you feel
like having some fun, you can join
your sisters-in-low for a village
gathering. Sit a while.
Sofia: And for this ball - perhaps
- Jean d'Arc. What do you think? A
woman-warrior. But then
was riding a horse. And wore no dress.
Ozren: That's a great delight. True
Sofia: What? Riding a horse or wearing
Ozren doesn't get it.
Sofia: Next month I'm going to take
a new course of French.
Ozren: So. You're not going to Zajecar?
Sofia: And the fencing lessons. Mr.
Claude said I'm praiseworthy. Improved
my skills just fine.
Ozren (in changed, threatening voice):
Sofia, people talk
Sofia: What? That one could get one's
eye twitched out by foil? Don't be
ridiculous. I always wear a mask.
Ozren stumbles over a bunch of journals.
Ozren: I'm warning you. I will tolerate
it no longer.
Sofia (pointing at the journals):
Why don't you just put them away?
(Beat.) You said you'd be going out?
Ozren glares at Sofia in fury. Helplessly.
Ozren: Your train is on Wednesday.
At half past ten.
Sofia: Wednesday? Almost forgot. Wednesday
evening. Poetry. In the French club.
Ozren leaves without a word. Sofia
drops to the sofa. Claude enters.
All of a sudden, Sofia is in his arms.
Claude: It's freezing. Me, standing
across the street. Down the roof -
an icicle. Drop by drop, down my neck.
Thought he'd never leave. He ran out
of the house as if chased by Furies.
(Beat.) Angel, but you're upset. You've
been crying? What happened?
Sofia: He's disgusting, unbearable.
He wants me to go to Zajecar. For
three months. To milk cows.
Claude: How much?
Sofia: Enough. Rene, I'm afraid. He's
Claude is earnest, disturbed by what
he has just heard. At least seems
Claude: A beast. If he - I'll kill
Sofia: Rene, let's go to Paris.
Claude: Angel, Paris is occupied.
(Beat.) It lasts. For a week?
Sofia: First time. Today. Outspoken.
Claude: I mean, those frequent outgoings.
Sofia: It lasts for a while. But how
could you know? You haven't been here
for five days.
Claude takes out his yo-yo. Pulls
it up and down.
Claude: Francoise had a sore throath.
Had to take her to the vet.
Sofia: And to give private lessons.
Sofia: Recently he's been mysterious.
Remains silent on my questions. Or
starts talking about tormented, agonized
mother Serbia. Just like that. No
cause. Even the confidential records
doesn't bring home. No more.
Claude: You know nothing?
Sofia: You're only interested in -
(In raised voice.) Nothing. Since
the purchasing of "hurricanes",
providing the Greeks with weapons
- That was the last one, was it?
Claude: Sofia, there are servants
in the house.
Sofia: So what?! (Beat.) Rene, I'm
afraid. What if he
and you -
not coming, busy with your lessons
or - what if I
Confess it all. Entirely. Who knows
what Ozren could do - Kill. Me. You.
If I... confess.
Silence. Claude draws Sofia close
to him. Kisses her.
Claude: Forgive me, angel.
Sofia: When we go to Paris, you'll
take me to Boies de Boulogne, Champs
Elysees, everywhere. (Beat.) To Africa.
We'll go to Egypt?
Claude backs away.
Claude: I have to go. Francoise. Take
her for the check-up.
Sofia: Tomorrow? You'll come tomorrow.
Claude: To chase away your fears?
If I could.
take your time.
Private lessons can be -
Claude: Exausting. As you know.
Sofia: And me?
Claude: You'll start again next month.
If you don't go to Zajecar.
Sofia (in desperate voice): Francoise
is having an allergy?
Claude: No. Why?
Sofia: People say that
puddles are allergic. To Englishmen.
Claire hands a bundle of papers
over to Claude.
Claire: It's all here: calculations
on amount of copper, lead, zinc, hemp
Yugoslavia had delivered to the Germans.
In return for 'heinekels', 'messerscmidsts',
anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns.
(Beat.) All that's Richard interested
Claude: Have you ever seen a desert?
(Beat.) In the sunset, when heat diminishes,
before darkness ovecomes. Sitting
on the top of dune. Glaring at wind
shifting sand from one slope to another.
And listening. To silence. Deaf. Dead.
There is no such entire silence. Immense
stilness. Wholeness. (Pause.) After
a period of time
you'll hear. The sand husking. Indefinite.
The way you are, sitting there. On
the top of the dune. (Pause.) One
day, if you wish
The other part of the stage. Claude
Missaud: You believe her?
Claude: Shouldn't I?
Missaud: You remember that compromising
affair in the Second Bureau, just
before the break of the Third Republic?
Claude: There were many. Compromising.
Missaud: The one with a constructor.
Serbian constructor. Who presented
to the Second Bureau an original project
on simplified usage of field kitchens.
He got all the resources and space
he needed for building up an experimental
kitchen. Near the arsenal. And the
next couple of weeks the constructor
was examining the latest machine-guns
and other weapons. Making the sketches
he was sending via Brussels to Berlin.
You know how he got caught? His wife
denounced him. The wife he walked
out on. (Beat.) And the kitchens were
found out not to be genuine. The Germans
have been using them since the World
war. (Beat.) Claude, the Second Bureau
and De Gaulle supporters in England
need your contacts with Vichy. Take
care. Field kitchens are easy. To
Claude's dream. Claude is standing
at the same spot he stopped in the
last dream. Sets forth through a fictive
labyrinth: turns, stops, goes back.
Abruptly, the lights come up on Sigunov,
standing in front of Claude, plunged
in bunch of papers. He wears blue
Sigunov: And the field cooks even
Claude: You're not - I've been told
you were strangled. Thrown in the
Sigunov (in confidential voice): Rene,
do not believe it. Everyone's - double,
secret. It is written. (Reads.) Aleksa
Pencic - the owner of silken scarves
store. Helps every customer to try
the scarf on. Personally. Around the
neck, tightens. Not loosening, until
The scarf generously gives away, to
the customer. As a presesent. Sofia
Radotic. Receives her lovers in a
bed. The coffin - bed. In the love
rapture she leaves them. Breathless.
By slamming the coffin. Buries them
alive. Alya Dubrova
Ozren Radotic. Secret, confidential
meetings with highly important persons.
Given detailed instructions. How to
murder. Himself. Did it lot of times:
threw himself under the train, jumped
into river, swallowed arsenic, blew
his head off. Never failed. Richard
Foster. Mixing poison out of hemlock
fruit. Sneaking into homes. Pouring
the poison in the bottles of tea,
vine, blueberry juice. Arkadiye Semionovich
boring. Claire Foster. A Spanish comb
in her hair. An odd creature. Not
from this world.
Claude: Not Claire. Everyone else,
but her -
Sigunov: When shown - the creature
spits. Enchants. You don't even notice.
You're no longer for this world. Dying.
Claude: It's not true. You're lying,
Sigunov (keeps on reading): Mihailo
Lukin. Throwing live tarantulas into
people's collars. Unimaginative. Varvara
Any longer. Poor thing.
why it doesn't matter?
Sigunov: Haven't you heard? Last evening
- she called her sister to come over
for borsch. Lydia Konovnicina stayed
till ten. Says - Varya was laughing.
Singing 'Kak poidu'. Laughed again.
When Lydochka left - strychnine. Into
- borsch. People say - killed herself.
But - I know. (Beat.) Missaud. (Beat.
Sigunov is upset.) Missaud - Rene,
begone! Quick, right away! He -
Sigunov starts gurgling as if choking.
Blackout. A sound of human body falling
Lights rise again, revealing Claude
on his knees, amidst scattered papers.
Sigunov has vanished. Claude picks
up the papers. Missaud appears. He
wears blue gloves. Claude starts towards
Claude: Where's Fedya? What have you
done? You - He was talking about the
people I know. Then - you. Where is
Missaud: He was talking about - doppelgangers.
They will take place. Of the people
you know. Just waiting
moment. For action. The overthrow.
Claude: You're boring!
Missaud (laughs): You still don't
believe? Some are already - here.
Around you. Hiding. Patiently. Lurking.
(Pause.) Can't you feel it?
Claude: You're talking rubbish.
Missaud: Am I? (Beat.) Set off straight
ahead, take left, then right then
right again then -
Missaud laughs. Disappears in the
dark. Claude sets off the way he's
been told. Before the end of his route,
in front of him, lights come up on
Varvara Konovnicina, lying on the
floor. Motionless. She wears blue
gloves. Claude stares at her. Crouches.
Varvara Konovnicina erects abruptly.
Varvara Konovnicina: Rene, have you
noticed? On the photographs? Have
Claude: What, Varya?
Varvara Konovnicina: That I'm dead?
Dead, dead, dead!
Varvara Konovnicina laughs hysterically.
Claude backs off.
Varvara Konovnicina: Or was it someone
Claude: Varya, what Missaud said
(Beat.) Is it?
Varvara Konovnicina: - someone hiding.
Patiently. Pause. Lurking.
Telegraph Department. Varvara
Konovnicina and Aleksa Pencic, at
Pencic: Think about it, Varvara Konovnicina.
I'm not asking much. Gain would be
Varvara Konovnicina: You're holding
Pencic: You should work, and I'm
pestering. What a nuisance I am. (Beat.)
It's nice around here. How many are
you? Nine? Ten? Like a big family,
where everyone knows what to do -
who gets groceries, who cooks, who
who copies telegrams
And everything is shared: duties,
little joys, (Laughs.) big secrets.
What a bliss! (Beat.) You don't mind?
Sharing. Just everything.
Varvara Konovnicina: As you said -
such a nice thing. Blissful.
Pencic: Wouldn't you like at least
something just for yourself? At least
- Imagine, Varvara Konovnicina - just
yours? (Pause.) Perhaps
Varvara Konovnicina gazes at Pencic,
as having second thoughts. Deflects
Varvara Konovnicina: Mr. Pencic, I've
got work to do.
Pencic: You've got photos. As well.
People say. Miscellaneous. Intriguing.
Why are you being so selfish? Why
don't you share your precious possession
with others? Many of them are dying
to take a glance. Be humane, Varvara
Varvara Konovnicina: Gladly, Mr. Pencic.
What a funny sights! Me - fell over
the sledge. Plunged my head into snow,
as an ostrich. Wriggling with my legs
up in the air, and my nanny - shaking,
roaring with laughter. I was six.
Than, Lydochka - my sister - and I,
at the table. Lydochka sits, cannot
even stir. I hold her tight, not letting
go, shoving the bublitchki into her
mouth. I'm laughing while Lydochka
choking. I was
eight. Such a
Varvara Konovnicina: I'll bring you
those photographs. Drop by, Mr. Pencic.
from that Russia?
Varvara Konovnicina: Mostly.
Pencic: And you don't feel like coming
back to this Russia... I understand.
(Sigh.) All the things have changed,
nothing has remained the same. (Beat.)
You haven't got Yugoslav citizenship?
Yet? (Varvara Konovnicina is silent.)
Oh, oh. How could that be? (Beat.)
It could be rather
Varvara Konovnicina: You can find
your way to the door.
Pencic: Think it over, Varvara Konovnicina,
think it over.
Pencic starts towards the door. Alya
Dubrova and Arkadiye Semyonovich enter.
Pencic passes by them, politely lifts
his hat up.
Varvara Konovnicina: Finally.
Karyagin: What did he want?
Varvara Konovnicina waves back.
Alya Dubrova: Rene hasn't come yet?
Karyagin: He's so - odd. Absent-minded.
Burst out in anger for no reason.
(In low voice.) Heard him talking
to Fedya. Dreaming
dreams. Horrifying. (Beat.) Since
she came, I believe. Maybe she enchanted.
Alya Dubrova: I said. Gamaion. Won't
Varvara Konovnicina: About Irina Petrovna
- Doesn't even think.
Alya Dubrova: It's been three weeks
Karyagin: Concealing. From us. Won't
tell. (In low voice.) What if - what
if he works for - the Soviets!
All three try not to betray their
Varvara Konovnicina: Arkadiye Semyonovich,
you should be ashamed.
Claude and Sigunov enter.
Claude: To be ashamed of what?
Alya Dubrova: Who pays attention to
Arkadiye Semyonovich's day-dreaming?
Varvara Konovnicina: This morning
Marfa Yegorovna has delivered this
copy of confindential report. General
Staff Department at the Ministry of
Army. It's about you, Rene. They filed
a complaint on using this radio-telegraph,
demanding from the authorities to
maintain the secrecy of telegram manipulation.
Listen to this: 'The secrecy of the
General Staff Intelligence Department's
code messages and telegrams is excluded
by this system of managing. Although
the means of telegram manipulation
are decided in the contract, Rene
Claude (the agent of the French firm
T.S.F. in Belgrade) holds under control
the whole managing through his associates
and he organized making copies of
telegrams. As far as his personnel
is concerned, it is of an utmost interest
to indicate that those highly uncertain
elements - that's us - Rene, are you
Claude (absent-minded): Yes.
Varvara Konovnicina: I'll leave the
report on your desk.
Karyagin: About Irina Petrovna
no news? I've been thinking - perhaps
a grocer. Injecting the small doses
of arsenic. Every morning. Into Irina
Claude: ENOUGH OF IRINA PETROVNA!
Silence. Everybody's looking at Claude,
Sigunov: Claude, the report is done.
Claude: I'd ask you to
Alya Dubrova: Arkadiye Semyonovich,
we should enter the telegrams into
Varvara Konovnicina: Think I'll go
earlier today, to see Lydochka. I'm
so glad. First - skating in Simina
Street, then hot borsch, at my place.
Claude comes to Varvara Konovnicina.
Claude: YOU CANNOT! I WON'T LET YOU!
YOU HEAR ME? NOT TONIGHT!
Everyone is appalled. Claude pulls
Claude (in low voice): We'll go for
a walk, to the theatre, wherever.
Just - not Lydochka. Not tonight.
Varvara Konovnicina: We'll talk
Varvara Konovnicina leaves. Karyagin
comes to Claude.
Alya Dubrova: Dear Arkadiye Semyonovich,
shall we go?
Karyagin: I'm coming, I'm coming.
(In low voice.) Last night I was standing
in the darkness. Looking at your windows,
while my cheeks were becoming frosty.
The light was off, the shutters were
down. You weren't home, Rene. Or you
wanted the others to think so.
Alya Dubrova: My sweet Arkadiye Semyonovich,
you know I can't handle the protocol
all by myself.
Claude (impatiently): Go, Arkadiye
Karyagin: Bewitched. Won't be good,
The Karyagins leave. Sigunov intently
observes Claude for a while. Claude
diverts his gaze from Sigunov.
Sigunov: Ozren Radotic meets Richard
Foster. In secret. Mostly in the house
owned by certain
45 King Alexandar Street. Usually
at quarter past six p.m. Twice in
the Aircraft Cheef Comand in Zemun
as well. (Hands a folder over to Claude.)
It's all written down: names, dates,
places. Except - the most important
- the purpose of those meetings. I'm
doing my best.
Claude: Fedya, do you have blue gloves?
Claude: Are you sure?
Claude: Varvara Konovnicina laughed.
And laughed. Dead.
Sigunov: And doppelganger?
Claude: All around me. Hidden.
Sigunov: Rene, are you sure? Was it
really - a dream?
Aleksa Pencic in Sofia Radotic's
salon. Glances at his watch.
Pencic: I should be going. I apologise
for disturbing you.
Sofia: I'm so sorry you had to wait.
Pencic: Mrs. Radotic, a pleasent company
makes any waiting a short one. (Laughs.)
Such a bad luck, these days. Yesterday
I went to the Belgrade Post to see
Mr. Claude. Waited for him several
hours. He didn't show up. Imagine
Sofia: I'm sure Ozren will be here
any minute. Must you go?
Pencic: Urgently. Once again, compliments
on the Friday's party. It was so
lively, as always. Speaking of Mr.
Claude, can't remember seeing him.
Sofia: Mr. Claude's visits have been
quite seldom. Recently.
Pencic: I see him hardly ever, as
well. How strange
of course, how could I forget? See
how absent-minded I am. These days
I've been dropping by at Fosters'
place. Came across Mr. Claude. At
their place. I think
time I've been there. If I understood
correctly, he was giving private lessons
to Mrs. Foster. Said she was extremely
Sofia: Was she?
Pencic: And you? Still fencing?
Sofia: I've made a pause.
Pencic: You have? What a pity. To
neglect such a refined, noble sport.
(Glances at his watch.) Oh my, oh
my. Have a nice day, Mrs. Radotic.
Richard and Claire Foster. Several
musical boxes play. Throughout the
scene Claire shuts them down. Richard
reopens them again.
Foster: He believed you?
Foster: You can be
Claire: Opportunist, more like it.
Foster: He won't make any
Claire: No. (Beat.) I don't know.
I'm not sure.
Foster: You're always sure.
Claire is silent.
Foster: So, there might be some
Claire shuts down the box vigorously.
Foster: It's the Symphonion. Be gentle.
Claire: I hate it.
Foster: I know. (Pause.) Anything
Claire: Nothing you should know.
Foster: I see.
Claire: Everything alright?
Foster: The situation is developing
according to the plans. For the time
being. (Beat.) Claire, there won't
be any sudden, unexpected moments?
Caused by you?
Claire: You doubt?
Foster: Sorry. I forget. Your choice.
Claire is about to shut a box down.
Foster: Don't. Leave the ballet-girl.
Spinning so lovely, gracefully. Look
at her: each and every muscle is strained.
Striving to keep the balance. Not
to fall. And shivers. With an adorable
Claire: You're talking about the doll.
A lifeless object.
Foster: Exactly. A little ballet-girl.
Spinning round on her tiptoes, trying
to fool. Balancing. And she's nothing
but a piece of porcelain. Just semblance.
Of a real one.
Claire shuts the box down.
Claude's dream. Claude roams throughout
the 'labyrinth'. Lights up on
Sofia and Ozren, sitting with their
backs turned to each other. In front
of each there is a wooden cylinder,
on which a long black cloth is wound
up. Their movements are synchronized:
Sofia turns the cylinder handle unrolling
the cloth, while Ozren rolls it up
on his cylinder. On finishing, they
turn, so that the cloth is never wound
off the cylinder. They both wear black
Sofia: In fact, it's easy to break.
Ozren: Should we throw him off the
tower? The Eiffel one?
Sofia: There will be a lot of blood.
Claude: Who? This time - who?
Sofia (to Claude): Do you like my
gloves? Made of the Venice lace? With
a floral ornament?
Sofia: In small doses? Too slow.
Ozren: So, quick and short.
Sofia: Can you?
Ozren: I've been practising. On myself.
Claude: What kind of a cloth is that?
Why are you winding it up?
Sofia: A shroud. Dead man shroud.
Up to yo-yo.
Sofia giggles. Takes off the right
glove and hands it to Ozren.
Sofia: Can you?
Ozren: Pencic showed me the secrets
of the craftsmanship.
Ozren quickly wraps the glove around
Claude's neck, tightens it. Claude
struggles. Sofia watches the sight
as if observing the exotic animals
in zoo. Missaud appears, Ozren looses
his grasp. He and Sofia freeze. Claude
stifles. Missaud taps Ozren and Sofia.
Missaud: As if real ones. The top
models are handmade. (Beat.) You're
an infidel. You doubt. But they are
thousands. Everywhere around you.
And their number will increase.
Claude: Those are fabrications! Lies!
(Beat.) And who is - around me? What
Missaud: Claude, you're surprising
me. What for are the overthrows usually
done? They're in fashion. Everyone
does it. Just take a look around you.
On the both levels, human figures
of all ages successively appear. Some
of them stay for a while, the others
just pass by.
Missaud: All professions are represented.
One never knows what might be needed:
riot, rebellion, revolution, internal
Claude: What's this? A Rudolf Hess's
Missaud: Don't be offensive. The Nazis
are dilettantes. Obscure. This is
Missaud slightly pushes Ozren. He
drops down. Missaud, laughing, takes
the cylinder and hands it to Claude.
Missaud: Take it. Smash his head off.
Have your revenge upon him. (Claude
backs off.) You won't?
Missaud throws the cylinder and hits
Ozren. Ozren gets up, dusts down his
Missaud: See? You can murder him as
much as you want.
Ozren (hands the cylinder over to
Claude): Here you are. Your yo-yo.
Claude: Why did you want to -
Ozren: Deciding on the right means
can be so fatiguing. I was bored.
Missaud: Yes, tedious discussions
can be exhausting. They always kill
Ozren (to Claude, in changed voice):
Next time, I'll choose the weapons.
All by myself.
Sofia Radotic in her salon, anxiouly
walks through the room. Comes to the
Savka (off): Yes, madam?
Sofia: My husband said he'd be back
Savka (off): Yes, madam. In fifteen
Sofia looks through the window. Sits
on the sofa. After short while Claude
Sofia: Rene, I'm going to kill myself.
Claude: Vitriol is on the second shelf,
Claude looks around.
Claude: Where are your gloves? Black
ones, made of the Venice lace? Are
they here? Both of them?
Sofia: I haven't got gloves made of
the Venice lace.
Claude: Are you sure?
Sofia: Of course I'm sure.
Sofia: Haven't seen you for days.
(Claude takes out his yo-yo.) I'm
suffering immensely. And you insist
on - gloves. Rene, I'm serious.
Claude: Should I pass you the bottle?
Sofia wraps her arms around Claude's
Claude: Why did you call me? What's
Sofia: If there are hundreds, thousands
of women - I don't care, just promise
me I'll be seeing you each and every
day. Promise me!
Sofia: Oh, Lord!
Claude puts the yo-yo back into his
pocket. A light, ironic smile lights
up his face. Ozren can hardly sustain
Ozren: Mr. Claude, the rumours have
for a while.
I've been doing my best not to hear
them, I kept on receiving you
this is over-much.
I have to demand a satisfaction.
Claude: I'm at your disposal.
Ozren: You should choose the arms,
but I don't need your pity. I insist
on dueling by sabres.
Claude. As you wish. This is your
Ozren: I'll send my second to settle
all the details with yours.
Claude (not listening to Ozren): Use
it. You've chosen your weapon. All
Claude's dream. Lights on Missaud
and Claude. Missaud wears red gloves.
Missaud: Decadents. With useful ideas.
The social hygiene, for instance.
(Beat.) Ready? If you memorise the
figures, we might reduce them.
Missaud whistles. Claude starts advancing
through both levels, coming upon his
acquantainces. In front of each of
them there is a toilet-table with
mirror, map and petty wooden human
figures. All wear red gloves. At times,
they replace and overturn the figures.
Foster washes himself.
Foster: The Eastern Europe - six million
nine hundred thirty-six thousand.
Mihailo brushes his teeth.
Mihailo: The Near East - one million
eight hundred forty-four thousand.
Sofia Radotic, putting the perfume.
Sofia: The Mediterranean area - four
hundred sixty thousand.
Varvara Konovnicina polishes her nails.
Varvara Konovnicina: Indonesia - seven
hundred twenty-five thousand.
Ozren Radotic washes his hands - his
gloves, in fact.
Ozren: The Balkans - four million
nine hundred eighty-two thousand.
Claire combs her hair.
Claire: The North Africa - one million
two hundred eighty-seven thousand.
Sigunov shaves himself.
Sigunov: The Central Europe - five
million eight hundred seventy-nine
Pencic cuts his moustache.
Pencic: The South America - eight
million three hundred fifty-one thousand.
Arkadiye Semyonovich washes Alya Dubrova's
Alya Dubrova: SSSR - eleven million.
Karyagin: That much?
Alya Dubrova: Not enough? Thirteen
million five hundred thousand.
Claude strides round once again, from
one to another. All of them are obsessively
cleaning themselves. Their movements
turn more and more rapid. Simultaneously,
their utterances mix, intertwine,
become indistinct. Claude starts running,
completely lost. Everything turns
to a whirl of opaque screams and cries.
A sharp whistle sound, all of a sudden
interrupts the total havoc. The scene
immerses into darkness. Claude is
Claude (in low voice): What are they
talking about? The war?
Missaud: There are more subtle means.
But the pattern is good: small flames
bursting into conflagration. You'll
see for yourself. In a short time.
(Beat.) Guess a number.
Claude: Forty-three million nine hundred
Missaud: Only? So much wood lost?
Claude: I guessed?
Missaud: You overlooked a trifle.
What part of the body are you going
The duel between Claude and Ozren.
Karyagin and First Gentleman, as seconds,
stand on one side. Claude manages
to disarm Ozren who slips and falls
to the ground. The end of Claude's
sabre is pointed at Ozren's chest.
Ozren: You've got all the rights.
Claude: One stroke will prevent you
from murdering the half of the Balkans.
How long have you been with them?
Answer me! How long? Do you plot the
overthrow? Or you've taken your place
a long time ago?
Ozren is shocked.
Ozren: I don't
I don't know
what you are talking about
Claude: One stroke
Karyagin and the First Gentleman are
Karyagin: Rene, back off!
Claude (to Ozren): You think you could?
Just like that? I won't let you! Do
you hear me?
Claude backs away, then as if recalls,
he walks up to Ozren again.
Claude: Just to check out. (Cuts Ozren's
arm a bit.) If you're real.
On the other part of the stage, Claude
Sigunov: Richard Foster - agent of
the Special Operations Executive.
Arrived to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
in order to organize a putsch if Yugoslavia
joins the Axis Powers. His connection
with the leading plotters is Ozren
Radotic, an aircraft mayor. All of
the plotters are the aircraft officers.
Won't be good, Claude.
Claude: That's all? You know nothing
more? What lies beneath the surface?
Sigunov (bewildered): That's all.
Claude: How can I tell you talk the
truth? That you're not with them?
Sigunov: You're not serious.
Claude: I am.
Sigunov (shrugs): As you wish. (He's
about to leave.) Last Thursday, Richard
Foster didn't visit the house in 45
King Alexandar Street. (Pause.) Ozren
Radotic met his wife.
Claude: That wasn't her. You didn't
see well! You hear me? That wasn't
Sigunov: She came in holding a briefcase,
and left the house empty-handed. Thought
you might be interested.
The other part of the scene. Claude
Missaud: You should have contacted
me. Two days ago.
Claude: I was indisposed.
Missaud: I warned you.
Claude: It happens.
Missaud: But not to you. What if Foster
was a German spy?
Claude: How could you know he wasn't?
Try to understand, it doesn't matter
who he is working for, when beneath
Missaud: No more about plots! You'll
let him go and organize the putsch.
You won't be on his way. That's what
the allies want. (Claude is about
to contradict.) Do not! (Beat.) That's
the Second Bureau order.
Claude: Enough the Second Bureau and
Saint Germain Boulevard fairytales!
And the way Service is operating in
England! The intelligence service
disbanded short after the capitulation.
De Gaulle is supported by a few people
in France. Who are you working for?
The Soviets? A new front on the Balkans
would accord with their plans. For
Missaud: That's nonsense!
Claude: Or - you have already been
(Pause.) Don't expect
from me to stand still, watching you.
Bursting out the conflagration.
The other part of the scene. Claude
Claire: Goes nowhere. He's calm. Listening
to his boxes all day long. Eerie.
As if he's surrounded by coffins.
Listening to all of them. At once.
I don't know how he can differentiate
his Symphonions from Polyphones through
that cacophony. But he can. Perfectly.
Plays them on, embeds into his armchair.
Hearkens. Waits. A sign, a call. (Beat.)
Rene, let's flee away. Tomorrow, in
three days, in a week.
Claude: Where to?
Claire: Switzerland, America, England.
Claire: Far far away. Let's go. Today.
Claude: Maybe you're right. Maybe
we should set out. To the bottom of
the ocean. But even there -
Claire: Rene, I've stopped dreaming.
The little brown figures and squealing
Claude: I haven't.
Foster and Ozren.
Foster: He was determined?
Ozren: To stop us. (Beat.) If Yugoslavia
joins the Axis Powers we, the plotters,
are going to restore besmirched honour
of the Serbian nation. It's our sacred
duty! The name of Serbian people will
set an example of brave, victorious
fight against the oppressor, for our
freedom and fatherland. The Serbs
will never live in slavery! The whole
world is going to see how we are willing
to die for the ideals of honour and
Ozren: On executing the putsch, if
the Axis Powers, in spite of our neutrality,
declare the war upon us, we can rely
on allies' help?
Foster: By all means.
Ozren: Generals Mirkovic and Simovic
are feeling the same way. Patriarch
Gavrilo as well. Our heroic guard
will not be defeated by a
fascist, whose country is not only
occupied, but also collaborating with
Foster: And what do you think, how
did that Frenchman - fascist
find out about the plans?
Ozren abruptly calms down.
Ozren: Perhaps you know better. How
he could find out.
Foster: I'm afraid that this possibility
evens up. You and me.
Foster is on the other part of the
stage. Faces Claire.
Claire: You know it wasn't me.
Foster: Do I?
Claire: You do. For the last time.
Foster: Charm of decadency is lost?
Claire is silent.
Foster: I thought you have been enjoying
Claire: I have. I want to leave. Us
to leave. I'll explain him all.
Foster: You will explain him nothing!
Do I make myself clear? (Beat.) You
may depart, if you want. To London.
Without him. Wait for me. There.
Claire: It's over.
Foster: You overlooked one little
thing. You lied. And he knows. Or
you think he'll ignore it?
The other part of the stage: Foster
Foster: I don't know what you are
Missaud: Mr. Foster, I'm not an enemy.
We've got the common interests. I
told you -
Foster: That you support De Gaulle.
You're an ally. What else?
Missaud: Someone who finds this status
quo highly undesirable. If you understand
what I mean. (Beat.) I know you've
(Beat.) I'll help you to get rid of
them. If you give me carte blanche.
Foster: And in return?
Missaud: You'll change. The status
Claude's dream. Missaud and Claude.
Missaud wears grey gloves.
Missaud: It's high time.
Claude: What for?
Missaud: It's boring.
Claude: Is that really a reason?
Missaud: You know a better one? (Beat.)
If you find her, you can take her
away. If not - she stays here. Voluntarily.
Claire appears on the opposite side
of the stage. She and Claude seek
for each other throughout the 'labyrinth'.
Call each other's names, pass by.
Encounter, but not see. At the same
time, on both levels, Claude meets
people he knows. They set out to murder.
Themselves or someone else. All wear
Mihailo aims a gun at his temple.
Blackout. A shot is heard.
Pencic has wrapped a scarf around
Varvara Konovnicina's neck. Tightens.
Varvara Konovnicina struggles. Blackout.
Sigunov stands on the chair, with
his head through a noose.
Claude: What for?
Sigunov: It's boring.
Blackout. A sound of chair falling
on the ground is heard.
Arkadiye Semyonovich dragged a knife
on Alya Dubrova. Blackout. A scream
Foster, out of his snuff-box, spills
a white powder into a drink. Downs
Ozren has pointed a gun at Sofia.
Blackout. A shot is heard.
Claire stands by Missaud's side.
Claude: What for?
Claire: I want them to be like musical
boxes. Start playing when you open
Claire and Missaud giggle.
Claude and Missaud.
Missaud: This morning, I've gone
for a walk. Alongside the Danube.
Imagine whom I've met - Mrs. Foster.
Strolling over the Danube. Is she
often so - alone? She should be told.
Ice has started melting down. If she's
careless, incautious, she might -
Oh, don't listen to me. It's strange
how all kinds of odds and ends glimpses
through one's head. But
take much to
If she's careless.
Claude grows pale.
Claude: Missaud, I'm warning you...
Missaud: You're not in a position
to threaten, Claude. (Beat.) You'll
slacken off. Withdrow. Stay alone.
Away from all love affections. You
need relaxation. You're tense. Your
nerves are much too strained.
Claude: I won't do it.
Missaud: You'll think of an
explanation. An elegant one. Leaving
no hint. Of hope. (Laughs.) Oh, I'm
sorry. Forgot whom I'm giving an advice
to. An aprentice to a master.
Claude (in low, harsh voice): I've
never begged you.
Missaud: Well, don't. Gather all your
strenghts. Devote to yourself. To
memories. You've certainly
got something to remember. (Pause.)
Speaking of memories
still keep Irina Petrovna's letter?
Pencic and Mihailo.
Pencic: Exactly those words? 'The
overthrow is just a mask'?
Mihailo: He said he'd endeavor to
stop it. With all his power. Then
the gentleman in the mackintosh drew
closer to Claude and started talking
about morning walks alongside the
Danube, and then
Mihailo: Then janitor Fritz came over
to me and said it was seven p.m. He
had to lock the door because of Claude's
order: no one should remain in the
exercise-room after seven p.m.
Pencic: And you obeyed janitor Fritz.
Well done. (More to himself.) The
putsch, nevertheless. So, the information
was true. (To Mihailo.) And Claude
is against it?
Mihailo: Does it mean you're grateful
to me? Extra grateful?
Pencic: That means I won't kill you.
Out of gratitude.
The other part of the stage. Mihailo
Missaud: He doesn't consider you to
be even to him. Contempts you. The
same as that police agent. They cannot
value your true abilities. (Beat.)
Mr. Lukin, my gratitude will be double.
If you report to me. If you, from
time to time, betray to Pencic something
that might not happen. And, most of
all, if you put Claude in his place.
(Beat.) You said - the affairs in
the club are numerous?
Lukin: Lately - not. Otherwise, everyone
keeps the eyes shut. (Beat.) But this
time - he really went too far. He'd
be surprised when he finds out. What
Sigunov, Varvara Konovnicina and
Karyagin at Claude's place, drink
champagne, laugh loudly. Slightly
drunk, all of them.
Sigunov: In the Crimea cadet corps,
just after we had arrived at Yugoslavia,
we founded - the Suicide Club. Thirty
of us. Coming to meetings. Regularly.
Discussing the means. Deciding by
gamble. It lasted for seven or eight
months, until the five of us remained.
Then we were denounced. By one of
us. So I didn't get my turn. And I
Varvara Konovnicina: Fiodor Mihailovich,
you don't need company.
Sigunov: No use, Varvara Konovnicina.
It's too late.
Claire enters. Sudden silence.
Claude (drunkenly): Mrs. Foster. What
a surprise. Weren't you afraid to
come here at night? All by yourself.
Why haven't you asked someone to accompany
you? Your husband, for instance.
Claire: Rene, I'd like to talk to
you. Before I depart. To London.
Claude: Do not hesitate. We are all
family. Even more so.
Claude comes to Varvara Konovnicina
and kisses her. She pushes him away.
Claire (in a trembling voice): It
won't take long.
Claude: Mrs. Foster, are those glycerin
tears? Or you've got onion hidden
in your sleeve? Come on, spill it
out. Or better not. We trust you.
Claire is about to cry.
Claude: You've forgotten. To say.
Claire starts towards the exit.
Claude (in low voice): Or you haven't.
Claire stops. Turns around as if she'd
say something. She and Claude gaze
at each other for a while. Claire
Karyagin: You're a monster.
Claude pours champagne into Karyagin's
Claude: And you're disgusting. Fiodor
Mihailovich, what did you say? By
gamble? Here are some matches. Who's
The Belgrade Fencing Club. Claude
gives a lesson to a pupil. Mihailo
and several couples practice.
Claude: Degagement. Riposte.
Out of the stage, unintelligible voices
are heard. Male voice: 'Where is he'?
Mr. Fotiric enters running. He holds
a piece of paper in his hand. He's
right at Claude.
Fotiric: You bastard! She's fifteen!
Claude: Mr. Fotiric, what's all this
Fotiric: How dare you!? You don't
know? (Pointing at the paper.) Everything
is written here. You, personally,
have been giving the lessons to Milena,
thought her how to fence, but, in
fact - Indecent proposals! How could
you? Oh, my dear child!
Claude: Those are nothing but defamations.
Your daughter will confirm.
Fotiric: Milena is in state of shock,
just trembling and shaking, but I
know. She's scared, afraid to speak.
If you come near to my daughter, ever
again, I'll kill you.
Claude (loosing his temper): Who told
you that? Milena didn't, that's for
sure. Because it has never happened!
It's a disgusting lie!
Fotiric: Anonymous note, Mr. Claude!
I'm so grateful to an honored, decent
gentleman who can no longer stand
watching this hotbed of vice and
Claude starts towards Fotiric. Mihailo
Mihailo: Mr. Fotiric, it must be a
Fotiric: You won't get away with this,
Claude. I have connections. I'll shut
the club down and have you arrested!
You'll be exiled!
Pencic enters. Claude is calm again.
Claude: So soon? Are you arresting
Fotiric: Thank God!
Pencic: I have to ask everybody to
leave the room. Except you, Mr. Claude.
Everyone leaves. After a short while,
Pencic addresses Claude.
Pencic: We haven't got much time.
Cvetkovic and Cincar-Markovic are
going to Vienna tomorrow, to sign
the Treaty. If the overthrow is bound
to happen, it'll happen within the
next few days. I know you're against
it. You must have your own reasons,
I suppose. (Pause.) I need your help.
Claude: You're an anti-fascist. Why,
Pencic: Mr. Claude, the Treaty is
the only way to keep Yugoslavia out
of war. At least for a while. Hitler
obliged himself not to demand any
military help from Yugoslavia, even
the permission for German troops to
cross our territory. Throwing down
the Treaty would have started off
Claude: What can I do?
Pencic: I've undertaken all the necessary
steps, informed the authorities, but
it seems no one understands real complexity
of the situation. If the rumours that
the army is included in the conspiracy
are true, almost nothing can be done.
(Beat.) I'll be needing your radio-telegraph.
If the plotters don't manage to grab
it before we do.
Claude: You can have it.
Pencic: Does this mean we're on the
same side? You and me?
Fosters' place. A few suitcases
in the corner. Claire and Claude.
Claude: She lies on the desert sand.
Covered by elder leaves. I take a
leaf off her eyelid and off her ankle.
Touching her eyelid and her ankle
with my fingertips.
Claire: Did you kiss her?
Claude: I take a leaf off her navel.
Grazing it with my lips. It is soft.
Claire: Did you kiss her?
Claude: Wind starts blowing. Leaves
disappear. She disappears. Nothing
underneath. But air. And desert sand.
A delusion. (Beat.) Then I wake up.
Claire: You should go.
Claude's dream. Claude and Missaud,
without gloves. Missaud holds a yo-yo
in his hand.
Missaud: There is nothing else to
be done. Everything is set. Within
a few days, they'll take their places.
Claude: It's not going to happen!
I'll prevent you!
Missaud: And how are you going to
Claude: By disclosing you, reporting
Missaud: To one of us?
Claude: Who are 'us'? Communists,
fascist, grocers, park-cleaners? Whose
leader are you?
Missaud: Claude, I've told you: it
doesn't matter how you name it. Everything's
a part of it. It should start off
from seemingly outskirted areas. Then
spread out. Slowly. Constantly. Flame
up the conflagration gradually. We
may not rule over now, not even in
fifty years. But in one hundred, two
hundred. Soon. We shall be patient.
And keep on moving. Forward, all the
Claude silences his ears.
Claude: I won't listen!
Missaud (laughs): I'm just a cog.
Cog in a system.
For a moment, everyone else appears,
placed on the both levels, like in
the first dream.
Missaud: Your place is up, to the
Missaud: I've been trying to tell
you. All the time. You're one of us.
Claude is struck. Drops down.
The Telegraph Department. Sigunov,
Karyagin, Varvara Konovnicina. They've
been just awaken.
Alya Dubrova: This is over-much.
Waking us up in the middle of the
Varvara Konovnicina: Said - it's urgent,
come quickly. And where is he?
Karyagin: Tonight - my wall clock
has fallen down. Overturned a glass
of water, just when I was about to
swallow two barbiturates. I knew it.
Sigunov: A bad sign.
Varvara Konovnicina: This has been
going for weeks. I can't take it any
Claude, Pencic and two police agents
hastily enter the room. Russians are
Pencic: Your theories are quite genuine,
but as far as I'm concerned, behind
the scene can be Saint Peter himself.
I don't care. The putsch is done and
that's a fact.
Varvara Konovnicina: What's he doing
Sigunov: What happened?
Claude: Coup d'etat.
Karyagin: Who? Soviets? Communists?
Why don't you speak?
Varvara Konovnicina: Just - army?
Alya Dubrova: That's why you have
waken us for?
Pencic: Duke Paul is on his way to
Slovenia. He hasn't heard yet.
Sigunov: Are you sure? It's not -
Soviets? The whole day - my left eye.
Pencic: Fortunately, generals Mirkovic
and Simovic dont have many people
around them. Not everything is lost.
We should telegraph to Zagreb, Ljubljana.
Whilst they don't take possesion of
the Belgrade Post.
Claude: Varya, take Mr. Pencic over
to the main radio-station.
Varvara Konovnicina: I will not. Until
you tell us what's going on. What
are you hiding from us?
Karyagin: For weeks!
Alya Dubrova: What happened to Irina
Petrovna? Did you murder her?
Sigunov: Whom -
Alya Dubrova: - actually -
Karyagin: - are you working for?
Claude (in fury, helplessly): You
fools! You know nothing! (To Pencic.)
I'll take you.
Ozren, accompanied by four soldiers,
bursts into the room. From the outside
noise and stumping of soldiers' boots
Ozren: On behalf of the future government,
heading general Dusan Simovic, we
are taking over the Belgrade Post
& Telegraf. Rene Claude, you are
being accused of planning and undertaking
subversive actions. You are under
arrest. (To the soldiers.) What are
you waiting for? Take him! All of
Sofia Radotic's salon. Full of
First Lady: Those plotters! All by
night. We knew nothing. Again.
Second Lady: Like the 'Black Hand'
in 1903, when they murdered king and
queen. They should have been told
way back then - next time choose a
daylight, so people can put on their
best Sunday clothes and come to watch.
To have fun.
Third Lady: Such a fun. My Radovan
was woken up and taken away early
in the morning. Didn't know if it
was for ministry or prison.
Sofia: Many didn't. People say Mr.
Pencic wasn't quite
At the beginning.
Ozren: Mr. Pencic is a patriot. He
figured it out, very quickly. How
to serve best.
Pencic: They were extremely
Sofia: You've been under surveillance:
interrogated, inquired, beaten up,
perhaps even tortured. Something,
at least. And what about the rest
of us? We're - deprived.
First Lady: Sofia, do not be disappointed.
If the Germans attack us -
First Gentleman: What do you mean
- attack us?
First Lady: Or even - bomb us - just
think how exciting that would be.
Ozren: Miss Vidic, no one is going
to bomb us. But if - We've got powerful
allies. The English will do their
best to protect us. I can assure you.
A few 'spitfires' will blow off the
whole German squadron.
Second Lady: That Englishman
hanging around here, recently
First Gentleman: Foster.
Second Lady: People say he set off.
Just after the putsch.
Second Gentleman: Gave a ride to duke
Ozren: Mr. Foster had to leave urgently.
Pencic: But he'll probably open a
branch-office. For the Balkans. (Glances
at his watch.) You will excuse me,
Mrs. Radotic, I should be going. Have
to phone my attorney.
Sofia: You are a lucky man indeed.
Have you heard? Mr. Pencic got some
inheritance. From an aunt he never
Third Lady: A land?
Pencic: A store. Garment, cloths,
scarves. In Petrovgrad.
First Lady: I'll drop in, for sure.
Pencic: Miss Vidic, you're always
Sofia: Mr. Lukin, why are you so silent?
Second Lady: You are troubled. By
the responsibility of being elected
president of the club. So young. Especially
- after the affair.
First Gentleman: Mr. Radotic, is Claude
still in prison?
Ozren: And he's going to stay there.
Third Lady: Such a tragedy. People
flipped out. He's got
delusions, or something. Is it true?
Ozren: Don't know.
Second Gentleman: Just like those
Russians. It's good you've imprisoned
Ozren: We've let them go. Back. To
the Soviet Union.
Second Lady: People say they were
spies. Imagine that.
Sofia: Russians! I knew I forgot something
important to tell you. And Mr. Pencic
didn't mention it. Sigunov, that assistant
of Claude's, you know
found this morning. On the bank. Dead.
A cry of excitement.
Second Lady: Drowned?
Sofia: Hanged. Down the bridge construction.
The rope snapped and - right into
Second Lady: Suicide?
Sofia: What else?
First Gentleman: How do you know?
Sofia: Savka has heard this morning,
at the market.
Ozren gets up.
Ozren: I'm sorry, I have to leave
Third Lady: You too?
Ozren: What can I say? Duties
Sofia (imitates him): 'Duties'. Always
in the first place. And wife at home
- all by herself.
First Gentleman: We are here to comfort
you, Mrs. Radotic.
Sofia: Mr. Lukin, are you going to
give private lessons?
Sofia: Good. I'd like to start again.
Mihailo: It'll be my pleasure.
Third Lady: It's a pity for Mr. Claude.
(Silence.) Who's going to supply us
with fashion journals?
Sofia: Have you seen my new gloves?
Sofia takes a pair of black gloves
out of a drawer. Tries them on.
Sofia: Made of the Venice lace. With
First Gentleman: Highly sophisticated.
Second Gentleman: But you'll have
to wait for the next ball to put them
Sofia takes off the right glove.
Sofia: You think so? They can be used
for many purposes.
Claude imprisoned. Sits on the
bed. Missaud in a visit.
Missaud: I smuggled. For you.
Missaud hands a yo-yo over to Claude.
Claude takes it. Pulls it up and down
Missaud: I went to Kalemegdan Fortress
yesterday. Snow has melted away. The
odour of the young grass is in the
air. On the foothill I found a snowdrop.
Of large, flat petals. Peered into
the corridors. Under the Fortress
ground. (Beat.) Have you ever wondered
all those endless tunnels and corridors
- where do they lead to? To the heart
of the tunnel. And where is it? (Beat.)
I saw a beautiful young woman, holding
a couple of snowdrops. A man approached
her, handed another one. She smiled.
The man had your figure. I cried:
'Claude!' Didn't turn around. Didn't
hear. They disappeared. In a corridor.
Immersed into darkness. (Silence.)
Claude, I've been thinking about your
delusions. Why do you seek after?
Persistently. If you really are -
Does it matter?