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Und, a play for one woman and six trays, is a moving study of dignityand self-delusion. When a guest, perhaps a lover, fails to appear foran appointment, his hostess invents excuses for his neglect, evenwhen ill-manners degenerate into barbarity. The hostess is Jewish, theinvisible guest a Nazi officer.
The Twelfth Battle of Isonzo is the twelfth marriage of a very old manto a young woman a fraction of his age. Their mutual fascination isintensified but also rendered ambiguous by the fact that both are blind.The intellectual and erotic manoeuvres conducted between them areakin to a dance, and what begins as a hypothesis becomes a painfulexposure of the many meanings of intimacy.
12 Encounters with a Prodigy concentrates a theme Barker has exploredover many plays – the solitude of the precocious child. Kisster, an adoredorphan, has been taught to exploit the pity of the world for his ownadvantage. From inside his fortified personality, Kisster manipulates ahost of predatory characters, keeping at bay angels and vagrants in hisstruggle to survive.
In Christ’s Dog the dying Lazar, arch-seducer and bigamist, treads out ajourney he feels compelled to undertake to reach accommodation withhis past. At every stage of his search, a different version of the untoldstory of Christ’s dog is proposed to him. Lazar understands that hisseemingly worthless life – akin to the mongrel that howls at the foot ofthe cross – is a critical element of human morality.
Learning Kneeling is perhaps the most terrible of Barker’s works, a playof apparently unredeemed extremity, relieved by a wit and a scrupulousintensity of thought that renders it a tribute to human persistence andimagination. Sturdee, a legless man of property, finds his home andhis mistress seized by terrorists, the leader of whom, Demonstrator byname and instinct, leads him into a nightmare of ambiguities.