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22 april 2020

I like Pyrenees best of any of David Greig's plays that I've read so far. Each one in Selected Plays 1999-2009 is better than the previous ones, for my money.

Pyrenees offers great situations for actors. It manages to be compelling drama while at the same time retaining a sense of the risks and surprises that come with really fruitful improv exercises.

Scene: A man and woman have just met. He is amnesiac; can't remember a thing that happened before he woke up in the snow a few days ago. She is a diplomat; her job is to try to help him figure out who he is.

To them: the proprietor of the hotel where they're staying. He doesn't seem to remember who he is from one moment to the next, either: he can't retain a nationality, a personal history, or even be consistent about whether he's the owner or just a hired hand.

To them: a second woman. She has been tracking the man all over Europe. She's his wife. Not his ex-wife, not his estranged wife; his active, current wife. He's either truly amnesiac or he's been running away from her and taking refuge in purported amnesia. Or maybe she's not who she claims to be, either.

And of course, "The Man" and the first woman are falling in love with each other.

There's no good way out of this. Pyrenees is indeed set in the Pyrenees, and a small device late in the play has us follow a dangerous traverse by an out-of-sight climber. It's an emblem for the balancing act that Greig sustains throughout this marvelous play.

Greig, David. Pyrenees. 2005. In Selected Plays 1999-2009. London: Faber, 2010. 233-339.