A Couple of Poor, Polish- Speaking Romanians by Dorota Maslowska was written in 2006 and translated into English by Lisa Goldman and Paul Sirett. Its first staging was at Teatr Rozmaitosci and was first performed in English at the Soho Theatre in London on February 28, 2008.
Dorota Maslowska a novelist, playwright, and musician attended Gdansk University and Warsaw University at Warsaw she majored in cultural studies and started writing poems and novels. She became known for her style of writing with Snow White and Russian Red which she wrote in 2002 it uses vulgar language and touches on controversial topics which brought it a lot of attention. Her next novel Queen’s Spew did come out until 2006 and after that came her first plays A Couple of Poor, Polish-Speaking Romanians (2006) and No Matter How Hard We Tried (2008). After writing her two plays she released another novel Honey, I Killer Our Cats and more recently in 2014 release a music album called Spoleczenstwo jest niemile / The Society Is Mean.
When first staged A Couple or Poor, Polish Speaking Romanians wasn’t received well and didn’t become successful but this encouraged Maslowsak to write her second show No Matter How Hard We Tried. A Couple of Poor, Polish Speaking Romanians was produced several times after it was translated and understood better. A quote from Dorota about A Couple or Poor, Polish Speaking Romanians was
"It is a short play, filled with humor and a whole lot of gags. Two really nice protagonists, acting on mysterious impulses, set off on an unintentionally frantic quest through Poland. It is a quest full of comic adventures, which over time turn out to be no joke, quite the opposite in fact, utterly no joke, indeed, quite tragic. The audience has to consider the fact that the play is not as lighthearted as it seems; its characters do not represent positive social or psychological models, and this journey doesn't have to be a life quest at all. Quite the contrary." 2006 Teatr Rozmaitości w Warszawie (staged)
2008 Soho Theatre, London
2010 Trap Door Theatre, Chicago
2010 Theatre on the Balustrade (Divadlo na Zabradli), Prague
2011 Abrons Arts Center, New York City
Parcha: Andrew Tiernan
Dzina: Andrea Riseborough
Driver & Mr Wiesiek: Howard Ward
Bartender: Valerie Lilley
Woman Driver Ishia Bennison
Old Man: John Rogan
Man 1, 2, 3
Woman 1, 2
The play begins with Parcha, Man 1 & 2, Driver, Woman and Woman 2 all voices off stage giving examples of their experiences with Parcha and Dzina. The driver is talking about his experience from Warsaw to Elblag, Man 1 is talking about the Romanian national anthem, and scraps of meat. Man 2 talks about his and his wife’s experience at a gas station with the two main characters of this play. Woman 1 describes how she and her husband didn’t let them in their car and Women 2 comments that it was mainly because of the condition of their teeth.
Starts with Parcha talking to the driver; trying to convince him to give him and his pregnant wife a lift to Wroclaw. The driver is talking directly to the audience about his experience with them thus far and often throughout the act goes from the narrator to the action. The driver helps to establish where we are in the play at the start of the scene. The driver refuses to take them anywhere but Parcha insists, we learn that they are both drunk and he continues to try convincing the driver to take them but instantly it is apparent both Parcha and Dzina are not quite right. The driver comments on the condition of their teeth comparing them to cigarette stubs. The Driver once again asks them to leave his car and they refuse to. He then describes pulling Dzina from his car and then getting punched by her. When the driver refuses to leave he is threatened by Parcha to be killed and pulls out a penknife.
Parcha and Dzina begin to smoke in the car and talk about the driver’s skills and humiliate him. They [Parcha & Dzina] make the driver speed, and he describes a game he plays when driving with signs and license plates. The play continues to become more absurd as Parcha and Dzina argue about who farted in the car and then the driver learns that Dzina is not Parcha’s wife and that the child she is carrying is someone’s she doesn’t know. Dizna then proceeds to take out a can of glue and sniff it telling the driver that she’s addicted and now her child is as well. The driver then sees a policeman and pulls over exclaiming to the policeman to arrest him. But Parcha tells the policeman that the driver is his father and isn’t quite sure where he is going but they are looking for the coal barge called The Ibuprofen.
By this point the driver is now crying while driving, Parcha starts to thank the driver for giving them a ride giving him five thousand dollars and an MP3 player and he tells the driver to buy a Thermomix. In the next monologue from the driver and the end of the act he is narrating that Parcha was actually holding a knife to his throat and Dizina pointing a gun at him trying to take his money, car keys, electronics and specifically demanding a Thermomix. The Driver is giving a report to an officer during this monologue.
Begins with Parcha and Dzina walking on the side of the road, deliriously complaining about giving the driver five thousand dollars and an MP3 player. He can’t remember giving anything to the driver but believes both his MP3 player and phone are in Dzina’s bag so he checks but can’t find them. They then get in a conversation about Dzina having a son but she can’t remember where she left him. She can’t remember when she left him if it was the morning before or the day before that and if she left him at the nursery or with her mother. At the end of the scene Parcha has a monologue where he talks about drugs and how he has been pretending for the past eight hours to be a polish-speaking Romanian when he’s only a Polish-speaking Pole on a drug high that he’s coming off of. He also complains about needing to be on set the next morning at eight because he plays a priest on a popular TV series. He then asks Dzina if they had sex.
Is set in The Welcome Grill and the Bartender begins by narrating what is currently happening in the bar describing when Parcha and Dzina walk in. Dzina comes into the bar exclaiming that she needs boiling water because she’s having her baby and Parcha negates that by saying she’s fine and that Dizina’s not really pregnant but she just has a pillow under her shirt. They end up finding out that the Bartender and Halina are from Warsaw as well and then Dzina and Parcha proceed to fight about Dzina leaving her son somewhere she doesn’t remember. Parcha then demands he needs to use the phone but the cheapest phone card is 15.70 and he has no money. Wiesiek then enters to ask how he can help and proceeds to ask Parcha if he needs to scream bloody murder. Parcha ends the scene by exclaiming that he hopes their microwave blows up.
Is continued dialogue between Parcha and Dzina about her son and she remembers walking him to the nursery and that hopefully her mum has picked him up. Parcha try’s to ease her worry by asking if he would have gone home on his own he then admits he is a moron for giving away five thousand dollars and Dzina continues to think about if she dropped her son off at the nursery or her mum’s house. The scene ends with Dizina not wanting to call her mum because she doesn’t want to admit that she spent the child maintenance money and her mother would make get a real job.
Starts in a field with a woman very drunk drinking outside her car, Parcha and Dzina jump onto the hood of the women’s car. They learn that the woman is from Warsaw and she agrees to drive them. The women can’t talk straight and continues to drink throughout the scene asking questions. She gets angry because Parcha doesn’t have a license with him and then they begin talking about food and that many times good food gets thrown out. Because her driving is so bad Parcha tries to convince her to stop but she won’t. He then tells her the story about him needing to be on set, that they need to ride the coal barge The Ibuprofen and that Dzina left her child. The women then gets a call from her husband who is worried she is going to crash. They end up crashing into a wild boar, Parcha and Dzina are okay but the women is bleeding they take her watch, and go through her bag but only find contraceptive pills.
They leave the women in the car and Parcha talks about the sex that he and Dzina had. Dzina denies that it happened. Parcha says that she took advantage of him and goes on to insult her about leaving her son. He continues to say that drugs are bad, that he met Dzina at a party, they were dancing took drugs and blames Dzina for that happening. The act ends with them seeing a house in the distance.
Parcha and Dzina are now pounding on the door of the house they saw. An old man answers the door and allows them in. The old man recognizes Parcha as Father Grzegorz from his TV show. Parcha tells the old man that he took Dzina in and he ends up asking to use the mans phone which he doesn’t have. Dzina asks if they can stay the night and the old man agrees.
The last scene of the show is set in the bedroom of house. Parcha continues to wonder where he left his phone and Dzina talks about making money from prostitution. She talks about not knowing who the father of her son is. Parcha tells her she need to find someone who will treat her right and asks if she has been tested for HIV she then asks if he can lend her five hundred dollars. Dizina gets up to use the bathroom; Parcha continues to talk about how unhappy she is. Parcha goes to the bathroom to find Dzina hanging from a rope. She continues to talk and Parcha leaves, Dzina cuts herself down and runs after him the play ends with them getting on The Ibuprofen a waiter offers Parcha stuffed peppers with scraps of meat, before eating he goes to the bathroom to wash his hands and finds Dzina hanging she has committed suicide.