Du pain plein les poches


Editions Actes Sud-Papiers, Paris 2004

Translated from the Romanian by Flora Papastavru

A play for two (women or men)




The play is a realistic drama, a satire about human nature, talking about people like you and me…sometimes cynical, sometimes shallow, witty and ridiculous, generous and coward in the same time. The play creates a sad and ludicrous universe, its two characters "Man with stick" and "Man with hat" resemble Vladimir and Estragon from Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", experiencing an absurd revelation, engaged in a game of power and free will



Around an abandoned well.

MAN WITH STICK and MAN WITH HAT are bending over the well. They're peering down.

MAN WITH STICK (after a long pause) – These people... they aren't human beings.

MAN WITH HAT – No they aren't.

MAN WITH STICK – I don’t know what can one call them.

MAN WITH HAT – Scoundrels, what else?


MAN WITH HAT – Sadists!

MAN WITH STICK – Absolutely.

MAN WITH HAT – Sadists and common garbage.


MAN WITH HAT – Absolutely.

MAN WITH STICK – That sort of thing isn't done. Anything but that.

MAN WITH HAT – Of course it isn't done.


MAN WITH HAT – Criminals and cold blooded murders.


Pause. Both men keep looking for a while, listening for a while. MAN WITH HAT straightens and puts on his hat.

MAN WITH HAT – They need tough handling.

MAN WITH STICK – I'll tell you what they need. They need a sound beating.

MAN WITH HAT – That's right.

MAN WITH STICK (waiving his stick about) – A sound beating till there's nothing left of them.

MAN WITH HAT – That's it. Beaten to a pulp.

MAN WITH STICK – Squashed like worms. That's what they deserve, squashed like worms and left in the dust like worms.

MAN WITH HAT (triumphant) – Rotting without a grave.

MAN WITH STICK (sad) – Yes, but they've got to be caught first. It's always harder to catch them than to beat them.

Pause. The two man bend over the well again. MAN WITH STICK places his stick under his arm while MAN WITH HAT puts his hat on.

MAN WITH HAT – Anyway one can's see a thing.

MAN WITH STICK – It can't be seen any more but it could be seen before.

MAN WITH HAT – When could it be seen?

MAN WITH STICK – At lunchtime.

MAN WITH HAT – It could be seen at lunchtime?

MAN WITH STICK – It could. When I passed by here at lunchtime it could be seen. And again it could be seen in the morning.

MAN WITH HAT – Did you pass by in the morning too?


MAN WITH HAT – And it barked?

MAN WITH STICK – It barked. It barked all the time.

MAN WITH HAT bends deeper over the well.

MAN WITH HAT – Perhaps nobody threw it in.

MAN WITH STICK – How's that?

MAN WITH HAT – Perhaps it simply came by here and fell in by itself.

MAN WITH STICK – Impossible.

MAN WITH HAT – Why? So many things happen…

MAN WITH STICK – How could it fall in by itself? It wasn't blindfold, was it?

MAN WITH HAT – Who knows? Perhaps it's blind.


MAN WITH HAT – Why is it rubbish? Just think how many people are blind.

MAN WITH STICK – Have you ever seen a blind dog?

MAN WITH HAT – No I haven't.


MAN WITH HAT – Well, perhaps this one is blind.

MAN WITH STICK (annoyed) – No, my friend, it isn't. There's nothing blind about it.

MAN WITH HAT – Or perhaps it threw itself in by itself.

MAN WITH STICK – How could it throw itself by itself?

MAN WITH HAT – Perhaps it wanted to die.


MAN WITH HAT – I mean to kill itself.

MAN WITH STICK – Animals don't commit suicide.

MAN WITH HAT – What about the whales?

MAN WITH STICK – What's this got to do with whales?

MAN WITH HAT – Well, whales are animals too, aren't they? Yet they throw themselves on the shore. Can you deny that they throw themselves on the shore? It has been proved by science that whales throw themselves on the shore.

MAN WITH STICK – Whales are one thing, dogs another.

MAN WITH HAT – I wouldn't say that. They're animals and yet they commit suicide. We don't see them committing suicide but they do all the same.

MAN WITH STICK – They have no reason to commit suicide. Only people commit suicide. Animals don’t commit suicide.

MAN WITH HAT – That's how it used to be. But nowadays everything is upside down and anything can happen. Have you heard that the female spider eats its mate? Eh? What do you think of that?

MAN WITH STICK – It eats it because that's how they're made, to eat each other. They've always eaten each other.

MAN WITH HAT – Yes, but it has been proves by science that lately they're eating each other more and more often.

MAN WITH STICK – Where did you get that from?

MAN WITH HAT – Have you noticed how many flies have appeared lately? There weren't so many flies before. Flies used to die in winter. Now they don’t any more. One can see it with the naked eye.

MAN WITH STICK – Look here, are we talking about flies or about dogs?

MAN WITH HAT – When it comes to that, I can't see any dog.

MAN WITH STICK – Well, haven't I told you that it's been seen.

MAN WITH HAT – Perhaps you've imagined it?

MAN WITH STICK – How could I have imagined it?

MAN WITH HAT – It happens. Have you ever heard of mirage?

MAN WITH STICK – But I swear to you I saw it. What the hell, I'm not crazy.

MAN WITH HAT – Don't swear. I believe you.

Pause. The two men bend over the well again.

MAN WITH HAT – Perhaps it's already dead.

MAN WITH STICK – I don't know… Could be… But I don’t think so.

MAN WITH HAT (brightly) – Let's throw down a burning match! What if we threw down a burning match? Or a paper ball. What if we threw down a burning paper ball?

MAN WITH STICK – It'll get scared.

MAN WITH HAT – Why should it get scared?

MAN WITH STICK – It'll get scared. All animals get scared of fire. Have you ever seen an animal going near a fire?

MAN WITH HAT – Perhaps this one won't get scared.

MAN WITH STICK – Heavens above! Have you ever seen an animal that wasn't scared of fire? It's natural for an animal to be scared of fire. We'd better throw a stone.

MAN WITH HAT – It might hurt it.

MAN WITH STICK – Let's throw a smallish stone.

MAN WITH HAT – Any stone might hurt it. What if it hits it in the eye? However small the stone if it hits it in the eye it'll knock its eye out.

MAN WITH STICK – Perhaps it won't knock its eye out.

MAN WITH HAT – And if it does?

MAN WITH STICK – The main thing it to make it growl. If the dog is dead it doesn't matter if the stone hits it in the eye and if it knocks its eye out. But if the dog is alive even if the stone hits it in the eye and it knocks its eye out it will growl, won't it? And we'll know that it's alive. And it's in its interest.

MAN WITH HAT picks up a stone.

MAN WITH HAT – Will this do?

MAN WITH STICK (examines it) – Not really.

MAN WITH HAT (picking up several) – Here you are, choose.

MAN WITH STICK – It mustn't have sharp edges.

MAN WITH HAT (chooses one) – Here you are, no sharp edges.

MAN WITH STICK – Well, throw it.

MAN WITH HAT – You're the one who mentioned stones. Here is a stone. Now throw it.

MAN WITH STICK – What does it matter who throws it?

MAN WITH HAT – It doesn't matter but you throw it.

MAN WITH STICK throws the stone in the well. Both men wait with tense concentration.

MAN WITH HAT (after long minutes) – It must be dead.

MAN WITH STICK – Something tells me it's not dead.


MAN WITH STICK – I feel that it's not dead.

MAN WITH HAT – How's that?

MAN WITH STICK – I just feel it.

MAN WITH HAT – Shall I look for a bigger stone?

From the bottom of the well the dog begins to bark forlornly. A few seconds later the barking becomes yelping which gradually fades away.

MAN WITH STICK (pleased, excited) – Did you hear? Didn't I tell you it wasn't dead? Did I or didn't I?

MAN WITH HAT (wiping off the sweat that had suddenly appeared on his face) – Unbelievable.

MAN WITH STICK (victorious) – It isn't dead. Nor was it dead at lunchtime. It wasn't dead at all.

MAN WITH HAT – Fantastic!

MAN WITH STICK – Hey, what do you think of these people? What do you think of this affair?

MAN WITH HAT – A blunder!

MAN WITH STICK – A blunder? A crime!

MAN WITH HAT – A shameful thing.

MAN WITH STICK – Swinishness of the worst kind! A live dog in the well! Throwing a live dog down the well! Have you ever heard of such a thing? (Aggressive, as at an interrogation.) Have you heard of any dog being thrown like this? Down a well?


MAN WITH STICK – How can you throw a live dog in the well? Why should you throw a live dog in the well? Can you understand such a thing? Such a thing is beyond imagination. Just try to think of it. Try to think and you'll see that you can't. Can you or can't you?

MAN WITH HAT – No, I can't at all.

MAN WITH STICK – It is against nature. It is completely against nature and against everything else.

MAN WITH HAT – I know who did it!


MAN WITH HAT – You wouldn't believe it!


MAN WITH HAT – Innocent children.

MAN WITH STICK – What innocent children?

MAN WITH HAT – Children. Children in general. You've not idea how cruel children can be in such matters.

MAN WITH STICK – Children have nothing to do with it.

MAN WITH HAT – I'm telling you! Children can be more cruel than you imagine. Because they don't know what cruelty is, do you understand? When you are little and don't know what cruelty is you're capable of anything.

MAN WITH STICK – No… this isn't the work of children. The dog is much too big. The dog is altogether gigantic. This is no dog that can be thrown in the well just like that. It's huge, it's altogether too huge.

MAN WITH HAT – Then it means that there is madness in the air. Lunatics. Everywhere is full of madmen. Nowadays the whole world has gone insane. All the lunatics are completely free.

MAN WITH STICK – No, this is something altogether different. This has been done out of hatred. That's it. This is a kind of pure blind hate. This isn't a common sort of hate. This is the kind of hate that chills your stomach… it is a total hate… You've got to be completely blind to everything and to the whole world to start doing this kind of thing… To start throwing live dogs in wells…

The dog barks again. The echo of barking spreads in the air with a kind of sadness and despair.

MAN WITH HAT – Let's do something!


MAN WITH HAT – Let's get it out!

MAN WITH STICK – Easier said than done.

MAN WITH HAT – We've got to get it out.

MAN WITH STICK – How the hell do we get it out?

MAN WITH HAT – I don't know.


MAN WITH HAT – I don't think that it's all that difficult to get it out.

MAN WITH STICK – I too have thought that we'd get it out. But it's not easy to get it out.

MAN WITH HAT – We've got to go down to get it out.

MAN WITH STICK – To go down?

MAN WITH HAT – Well, don’t we?

MAN WITH STICK – To go down where?

MAN WITH HAT – What do you mean, go down where? Down the well.

MAN WITH STICK – Down the well…

MAN WITH HAT – Yes, down the well. We go down the well, we get it out and that's that.

MAN WITH STICK – And how would we go down?

MAN WITH HAT – It's not all that hard to go down. We simply go down and get it out and that's that.

MAN WITH STICK – Out of question.


MAN WITH STICK – There is no way we can go down. Just think: how would we go down?

MAN WITH HAT – We'd need a ladder.

MAN WITH STICK – I ladder is useless.

MAN WITH HAT – How so? If we had a ladder we'd go down the ladder.

MAN WITH STICK – And I'm telling you a ladder is useless. The well is much too deep. Where do you find such a tall ladder? Do you realize how deep the well is? You won't find such a deep ladder anywhere.

MAN WITH HAT – Well then, a rope…

MAN WITH STICK – I had thought of a rope too.

MAN WITH HAT – That's it! A thick rope with knots.

MAN WITH STICK – But I'm telling you I'd thought of a rope too.


MAN WITH STICK – And it's out of question.

MAN WITH HAT – Why it's out of the question?

MAN WITH STICK – Damn it! Simply because you can't do a thing with a rope either.

MAN WITH HAT – With a rope one could go down.

MAN WITH STICK – Do you think one could go down?

MAN WITH HAT – I think so. I think that one could go down.

MAN WITH STICK – And who is to go down then?

MAN WITH HAT – One of us.

MAN WITH STICK – More precisely, who? Will you go down?

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Si la pièce de Matéï Visniec est effectivement une fable, elle est également particulièrement dérangeante. Deux personnages s’y côtoient, Canne et Chapeau, autour d’un puits éloigné de la ville. Au fond du puits, on entend les aboiements d’un chien. Comment est-il tombé ? Qui est coupable ? Doit-on l’aider ? Comment ? Et d’ailleurs, n’est-il pas déjà mort ? Les deux personnages choisissent de disserter mais pas d’agir, se rejetant la faute à grand renfort de hurlements, excusant maladroitement leur lâcheté et leur absence de prise de décision. Chez Visniec, quand le chien aboie… les parents flippent.

(Dorotée Aznar, le Web des spectacles, mars 2010)

Company Pli Urgent, directed by Claire Truche, Festival d’Avignon off, France 1993

Théâtre Nouvelle Génération – Lyon, France, directed by Nino D’Introna, 2010


French (translation Virgil Tanase)

English (translation Flora Papastravru)

German (translation Gerhardt Csejka)

Portuguese (translation Fábio Fonseca de Melo)

Hungarian (translation Eva Patkó)



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