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“Ice Eaters”

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Wenckheim, Nicholas (American playwright, 19__-____), “Ice Eaters,”

a 50-minute drama in English, in six scenes, set in a cell in a jail, mid winter, 1981,


; • © 1981 by Nicholas Wenckheim; • in Nicholas Wenckheim’s Ice Eaters (New York: The Author, 1981) ; • script/rights available from Nicholas Wenckheim, 530 Park Avenue, #6A, New York, New York 10021, U.S.A., e-mail dbsouthampton@aol.com, telephone (home) 212-759-5353, fax 212-759-2335. • Cited by Nicholas Wenckheim via ftp July 25, 2003; Wenckheim says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Radu (m), 19, son; Irene (f), 40, mother.

  §  Synopsis “Irene has managed to acquire a permit to share for two days a cell with her son Radu, who has been jailed for five years by a totalitarian government. She finds him in bad shape, hearing nonexistent voices. As she tries to comfort him, he shows her the source of the voices he ‘hears’: a group of prisoners awaiting death penalty, so tightly jammed into a room that they can only stand. Splinters of ice are thrown into their mouth to avoid their demise before execution. After showing her the ‘ice eaters’, Radu finally tells her mother what he has to endure and he despises her for pretending to understand his suffering. Furthermore, his sentence has been extended and he won’t leave the prison alive, for he is terminally ill. As he desperately deplores his never-tested virility, Irene offers her body to make love to him. Next day, both are calm and even playful. Radu tells her about a recently jailed contrarevolutionary hero. Later, the couple is informed through a loudspeaker that the hero in question is no less than Radu’s visiting mother who had been arrested. Both know that their cell has been ‘bugged’ and therefore they lie to each other: Irene lets her long hair down as a ‘proof’ that she is only a visitor, and Radu lies pretending to believe her. Shortly after Irene leaves, her cut hair is thrown into the cell in a bundle. When Radu is at the door to regain his cell, he perceives the voices of the ‘ice eaters’ who had finally been executed. Only this time their choir chants in Gregorian unison.

  §  Comment “Unit set. A prison cell. Scene 1: Early evening to late at night. Scene 2: That same night. Scene 3: A few minutes later. Scene 4: Next day evening. Scene 5: Next day evening. Scene 6: A few minutes later. • Written April 14, 1981, the play premiered in New York at American Theatre of Actors in 1986/7 and won the Jean Dalrymple award for best one act play. It was also staged in Edinburgh during the annual festival of 1988.

  §  Themes hallucination, incest, jail, mother-son relationship, totalitarianism.

See also Nicholas Wenckheim’s

  • Choir of Silence,” a 55-minute drama in English in fifteen scenes, set in a non specific city in Germany, 1970, 1965, 1945 1942 and 1945 in that order, 3m1f
  • "Out of Eden," an 8-minute tragi-comedy in English, set inside a uterus, anytime, 1m

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page mounted July 25, 2003, and updated September 29, 2003, by the Webmaster.

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