Set in a prison where the inmates are forbidden to speak their own language, the play is comprised of four terse scenes. In one, uniformed officers taunt and belittle the women who have come to visit their men, who are political prisoners; in another, a mother and son are allowed to speak only in 'the language of the capital,' which they do not know; in the third scene, a young woman accidentally sees a guard holding a tortured man whom she knows to be her husband; and in the final scene, the old woman is reunited with her bloody, trembling son and told that she may now speak, but she cannot, or will not, do so.
Date of Composition: 1 April 1986 - June 1988 Confidence Level
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William Baker and John C. Ross, Harold Pinter: A Bibliographical History (London: British Library; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2005)
On p. 97. Baker and Ross provide the publication information for the play script.
The summary of the play is taken and adapted from the publisher's webpage advertising their acting edition and information regarding performance rights.
The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Review of Books Records, Series II, Barbara Epstein Files, MSS Col 23385, Box B, E84
Folder labelled 'Harold Pinter 1988' contains a draft of the play and Epstein's impressions of it. Given that the correspondence takes place in June 1988, Pinter may well have completed the play earlier that month.