Tomasz Man
Sex Machine and Other Ones

The author explores the limits of love and devotion, duty and morality

I have no desire to

you are as weary as a tree
after a gale

that was a month ago
the day of his birth
I fixed a dinner
his favourite shellfish salad
and white wine
I waited all evening
he never said he wouldn’t be coming
I called
he didn’t answer
I was afraid something had happened
he’d never returned so late
he came home at one twenty-three
I asked him where he’d been
I’m not telling
he replied
he didn’t eat his dinner
he didn’t wash
he went to bed
without kissing me good-night
there used to be no secrets between us
I tossed the salad in the bin
poured the wine down the drain
I rifled through his jacket pockets
and found a receipt
two plates of shellfish salad
a bottle of white wine
he’d taken someone to dinner
I tossed and turned till morning

the tears etched grooves in your face

he’d never wasted time on dates
he was writing a PhD
I was reading over the chapters
bringing him books
organising his notes
he has no need for girls
he said
only you
yesterday when he returned
from his engagement
I asked him to sit down
to talk to me
he turned on his heel
and went to his room
I wanted to come in
but he’d locked the door tight
I hammered with my fists
but he wouldn’t let me in

she fell asleep by his door
like a faithful dog
and in her dreams
her son brought her a handful of tears

he opens the door

Excerpt translated by Soren Gauger

Tomasz Man
Sex Machine and Other Ones

The author explores the limits of love and devotion, duty and morality

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Księgarnia Akademicka, Kraków 2019
Translation rights: Wydawnictwo Księgarnia Akademicka, prezes@akademicka.pl
Foreign language translations: Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Russia (in anthologies). Man’s plays have been staged in Germany as well.

Tomasz Man is an acknowledged and multi-award- winning playwright, and an original theatre and radio director. He has a sure hand with colloquial language, from which he can extract an unexpected poetic ambiguity. His plays have been performed in many countries.

The plays gathered in this volume are merely a sample of Man’s oeuvre, but they are representative, exhibiting the scale and originality of his talent. The Story of a Certain Love is a lyrical monologue of a man recalling his lost wife, a record of slowly coming to terms with conscious love, only just experienced and appreciated. Sex Machine, in turn, is a brutal tale, its construction and language modelled on Greek tragedy, detailing a single mother’s smothering love for her only son, now an adult. Here the author explores the limits of love and devotion, duty and morality, scripting a score of desire and hatred for four voices and a chorus. Job is part of an ambitious project: a dramatic rewrite of the main bible stories. It is relatively short, a quartet of monologues examining how modern man is tempted by weakness and doubt as he pursues worldly success. The drama I’ll Go, Though My Feet Are Cold is practically religious in nature, formally approximating a medieval morality play; it depicts the infamous murder of a Krakow student by communist authorities. The author lays bare the cynical behind- the-scenes machinations of the culprits against the mother, who is helpless against the state apparatus. The monodrama Impurity explores a paedophile’s internal monologue as he is released from prison after a twenty-year sentence. This is a man who is able to meticulously analyse his own psyche, yet is incapable of any sort of moral feelings. The volume ends with an allegorical fantasy from the future. We are inside a bunker just after a nuclear explosion. A father and daughter locked up inside and a man outside, pounding on the door to get in, are forced to make unexpected decisions in extreme conditions: in isolation and with the vanishing of all forms of life on earth as we know it.

Artur Grabowski

Translated by Soren Gauger

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