Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



In association with Amazon.it - Italia

the Complete Review
the complete review - drama


And Now Who's
Going to Do the Dishes ?

Matéi Visniec

general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase And Now Who's Going to Do the Dishes ?

Title: And Now Who's Going to Do the Dishes ?
Author: Matéi Visniec
Genre: Play
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2015)
Length: 93 pages
Original in: French
Availability: in How to Explain the History of Communism [...] - US
in How to Explain the History of Communism [...] - UK
in How to Explain the History of Communism [...] - Canada
in How to Explain the History of Communism [...] - India
De la sensation d'élasticité [...] - France
  • French title: De la sensation d'élasticité lorsqu'on marche sur des cadavres
  • Translated by Jozefina Komporaly
  • With an iintroductory Playwright's Note

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : effective depiction of being an artist in the Communist-era

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       And Now Who's Going to Do the Dishes ? is both an homage to playwright Eugène Ionesco and his work, and a depiction of being an artist in the darkest times of the Communist era (in Romania, here -- but many of the basics apply throughout the Eastern Europe of the times).
       For Visniec, Ionesco was a revelation and inspiration, as he explains in his introductory Note:

When I first discovered Ionesco's plays, in a communist Romania where the day-to-day absurd competed with the theatre of the absurd, I essentially discovered absolute freedom and, at the same time, an extremely efficient tool in the battle against oppression, stupidity, and ideological dogma.
       The main action in the play follows Romanian poet Sergiu Penegaru, a hard- (and/or desperate) drinking, out of favor but very active poet. He actually can't stop himself:
As I open my mouth ... I vomit poetry. Even when I take a piss, what do you think springs out of me ? Free verse ...
       He translates too -- but, as the Editor in Chief explains to him, circumstances are not conducive to seeing any of Sergiu's work published: "How do you expect me to publish Lautréamont in a journal called Socialist Literature ?"
       Sergiu is particularly -- and even literally -- haunted by Ionesco's The Bald Prima Donna, but the Editor in Chief understands that in the prevailing climate Ionesco, too, is entirely unacceptable. Two long monologues -- presented as video projections, the head of the Editor in Chief reading out his letters, recommendations to the authorities as to whether or not to accept Ionesco -- do at least show changing circumstances and some progress: in the first the Editor in Chief, despite being sympathetic to Sergiu and to his ambitions, writes strictly according to party lines:
I do not recommend this play to be published in our country. I consider this text to be a prime example of decadent bourgeois literature that has nothing in common with our socialist culture and the requirements of socialist realism.
       The second, years later, comes after the post-Stalinist thaw -- finally also reaching Romania. While he doesn't completely change his tune -- he still has to acknowledge that Ionesco's plays: "do not observe the principles of socialist realism" -- he finds arguments supporting the publication of the plays (albeit with: "introductions with adequately detailed explanations to frame their publication").
       Meanwhile, the poet spends several years locked away -- not (only) for his writing, but for having drunkenly pissed on an enormous statue of Stalin, an outrage that should have cost him his head.
       With much of the play set in locales in the art milieu (extending to its controllers) -- the Writers' Union, the deliberations of various relevant authorities, the theater -- Visniec nicely presents the Romanian cultural scene of the late 1950s and 1960s -- including (also in some 'Additional Scenes' included with the text) the complex relationship of local art with the successes of Romanian writers abroad, including the triumvirate of Ionesco, Cioran, and Eliade.
       With its various layers of action (and reality), And Now Who's Going to Do the Dishes ? is a busy play, but Visniec interweaves the scenes quite well, and it makes for a cohesive whole. Often drunk or practically delirious, Sergiu is not a very grounded character, but it's a good fit and counterbalance to all the other characters who try to toe the party line and control their (and his) behavior more closely -- even as they often are sympathetic to Sergiu. Ionesco's plays, and his approach, are also nicely integrated into the play.
       A solid, enjoyable play, nicely skewering what are admittedly easy targets.

- M.A.Orthofer, 5 November 2017

- Return to top of the page -


And Now Who's Going to Do the Dishes ?: Matéi Visniec: Other works by Matéi Visniec under review: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Romanian-born playwright Matéi Visniec was born in 1956 and has lived in France since the late-1980s; he writes in both French and Romanian.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2017 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links