A man and a woman, Devlin and Rebecca, sitting in a living room talking. Their conversation zigzags through their shared and undivided past and present. She tells him, he is listening, trying to get access to her thoughts, feelings and memories. Sometimes she talks about a sadomasochistic relationship, sometimes about war memories that cannot be her own, but which she apparently experiences, and finally about the child she lost on the platform of a train station. He becomes confused by the contradictions, the open ends, the distance and then again the intimacy she expects from him. The more she tells us, the more questions arise: What did her affair with the dangerous travel guide mean? Is the violence a memory or a desire? Who is this large group of people on a beach fleeing into the sea? When did all these events take place, and above all: who is he himself in this story? Devlin tries to connect the words and facts, to order time, to calm Rebecca, but new elements in her story, small shifts in time and space, make any form of reconstruction impossible. He has no choice but to allow himself to be carried away, to let go of any fixed position, to change his role in her story every time she indicates this. Sometimes she turns him into a lover, sometimes into a therapist, sometimes into a witness, to an abomination, sometimes into a felon. Finally, he will discover that she is not seeking after him, but for herself, for her own voice, for the possibility that a single living body may become receptive to the millions of dead in history.
The British author and Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter (1930 - 2008) was a versatile theatre man: actor, director and author. His very first plays, in the late 1950s, already sounded like a literary language in its own right. In his later work, political themes come increasingly into focus: power and speech, remembering and forgetting, the ruthless history in the present. Ashes to Ashes (1996) is one of his last plays, written after the genocide in Rwanda and the Balkan wars. In this play, for the first time Pinter, who descended from Eastern European Jewish ancestors, explicitly focusses on the Shoah.