TEXTBRIDGE | Literary Agency

A Dialogue about Love

András Visky


A woman's enduring love is tested while imprisoned with her children with no chance of survival. Caught in a passionate love triangle between her husband and her god, she makes a final gamble for her life. 

An Eastern European Juliet set during the times of darkest dictatorship and without a Romeo: this, in a single sentence, is the essence of András Visky's drama, a "dialogue" in which the Transylvanian writer tells something of the true story of his parents. In 1939, his father, a minster in the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania, fled from Romania to Hungary, where he was to meet his future wife After World War II they decided to return to Transylvania, by then a part of Romania again, because, as he said, a servant of God must always choose the hard way. His father was sentenced to 22 years in prison; his mother remained alone with the seven children, unable to speak the Romanian language. They were deported to the Romanian Gulag a thousand kilometres from their home. But Juliet was not ready to give up her freedom and deny her love, and instead she decided to find a way out. Although Juliet is performed by just one actress, it brings alive a multitude of stories, objects, places and situations, with even God stepping onto the scene as the main protagonist in Juliet's escape.


that during the five days
they had transported us
none of us had washed
From truck to cattle train
Cattle train to third-class carriage
Third-class carriage to truck
Then when we reached the Romanian plain
Time, for us, just stopped

Five days
Or seven
Or ten
Who knows

They passed us on hand to hand
The family was under armed guard

Get out, my little lambs
Get out and strip off
On the double
The whole family
Back to Paradise

We showered
It was the first time since our eviction
that I saw them laugh
I laughed, too, loudly
Come here
Come here, my little sparrows
They danced a little dance
Ran around in circles
They chased me, too,
with rainwater they had cupped in their hands
to cheer me up

I gave them a good scrubbing down
By the time I had finished with them
the sun had come out again

Thank you
You even think of a hair-drier
Thank you

The camp's other prisoners stood around the house
and watched us
as if they couldn't believe their eyes

They waited for me to dress them
in their soaking clothes
and go out to the front of the barracks
to greet them

Who are you?
My eldest speaks for all of us
in Romanian
Where is your mother?
Our mother? That's her, Juliet, our mother
They shook their heads in disbelief
I could, at most, be their eldest sister
if I could
And where's your father gone?
I don't know
They took him away
Sentenced him
To how many years?
The prisoners exchanged glances
What was the charge?
Father's a priest, my eldest replied
A priest
End of story
Is he still alive?
The eldest looks me in the eye
It's not a question he's ever heard before
So dry and matter-of-fact
As if they had asked,
What time is it?
But we didn't know
what the time was
A father has to be alive
What are they talking about?
Of course he's alive, he replied, greedily
More to convince himself and the others

I don't know, I don't know, I answered
Why shouldn't he be alive?