“Bitter. It’s all so bitter.”
This is a play from the mid-1990s, and you might otherwise know Yasmina Reza from her play “God of Carnage”, which involves two sets of pretentious upper-class parents duking it out after a playground incident of violence. I have also read her play “Art” which tackles some of the more silly questions related to the contemporary art world.
This play only involves two people, passengers on the same train, and is primarily their internal monologues that are dominating their thoughts during the trip. We begin with Parsky, a fiction writer, who is traveling to meet up with his daughter and her much older new fiancé. He is quite upset about the whole ordeal, and among other things is thinking about his writing interplays with this ridiculous situation he finds himself attending.
Martha, on the other hand, is a middle-aged woman, who just so happens to have one of Parsky’s books in her bag, and it’s this very book that has been occupying his thoughts. As she reads the book, he notices, and she notices him noticing, but neither feel compelled for the longest time to bring it up. At one point Parsky even mentions how very much like a certain kind of short story of an earlier age this reminds him of — he reaches the conclusion of Stefan Zweig, but I would say Henry James or Edith Wharton, but regardless, the thought makes him laugh, and of course speaks to an irony in the play.