I have previously written about Jon Fosse and his skills as a prose writer, but this is the first play I have read by him. He is the world’s most performed living playwright, and translations of almost all his plays are available in English, but for whatever reason, he has never caught on in the English-speaking world.
With sparse dialogue reminiscent of Beckett and Pinter, this is not a play for everyone. It features two characters, The One and The Other, in a small boat in an unnamed body of water, and most of the play consists in just them talking. Their talk, ridden with pauses and unfinished thoughts, might frustrate those who want them to come right out and say what is on their mind, but that is one of the play’s big themes: the inadequacy of language.
Readers more action-minded will be pleased to know that the characters do not sit around waiting for the whole play. There is a chilling event that brings the short text to its conclusion, which, to avoid spoilers, I will not say much about other than it puts a new light on the preceding dialogue.
I must emphasize again that this is not for everybody, but for anyone who ever enjoyed Beckett or a similar writer, this is a real treat. Most of Jon Fosse’s plays are collected in volumes containing 5 or 6 plays; this is one of the few standalones. For those who want to try out Fosse but do not want to commit to a handful of works, this text is great. It is a shame Fosse is not more well known over here, although with him now being mentioned as a possible future Nobel laureate, perhaps that will soon change.