In the Solitude of the Cotton Fields,
by Bernard-Marie Koltès

BBC Radio 3: Sunday Play

Broadcast: Sunday 7th March 1999 @ 10:30 p.m.

"In the Solitude Of Cotton Fields" is a bleak dissection of an enigmatic encounter between two men offering a fascinating and discomforting vision of the concerns of Western society. The play dramatises a nocturnal encounter in a grim, urban setting between a pair who are generically characterised as "The Dealer" and "The Client." The Dealer accosts The Client, claiming that The Client has sought him out in a shadowy location to buy something. The Client repudiates this disdainfully, and a standoff between the two men begins that forms the substance of the play. It is a duel cast as a deal, conducted in an intense, highly wrought dialogue with a sense of incipient violence looming throughout: mesmeric, rhythmical and extraordinary.

We never find out what is being bought or sold; it is the process of the transaction that fascinates Koltès. He examines the act of buying and selling as a power struggle, a symptom of desire, or a representation of all human interaction. The men engage in a verbal battle, using language as a means of gaining the advantage over each other. What starts as a negotiation for power, advantage and territory gradually turns into a revelation of mutual solitude and fear before leading to a climax of naked antagonism.

Bernard-Marie Koltès was born in 1948 at Metz in Eastern France and died of AIDS in 1989 at the height of his playwriting career. By the time of his death he was being described within European theatre circles as one of the most significant figures in French postwar theatre for his edgy, modernist plays.

Translated from French by Jeffrey Wainwright from the 1987 play "In the Solitude of the Cotton Fields" by Bernard-Marie Koltès.

With Gerard McSorley [The Dealer] and Russell Dixon [The Client].

The music was composed and performed by Gary Yershon.

Directed by Melanie Harris in Manchester.

75 min.


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