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the Complete Review
the complete review - drama


Conversations after a Burial

Yasmina Reza

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Title: Conversations after a Burial
Author: Yasmina Reza
Genre: Drama
Written: 1987 (Eng.: 2000)
Length: 75 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Conversations after a Burial - US
Conversations after a Burial - UK
Conversations after a Burial - Canada
Conversations après un enterrement - France
  • French title: Conversations après un enterrement
  • Translated by Christopher Hampton
  • English-language première in 2000, at the Almeida Theatre, London
  • Yasmina Reza won the Best Author Molière Award and the New Writer Award from the SACD in 1987 for Conversations après un enterrement

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Our Assessment:

B- : fairly unexceptional family drama

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 14/9/2000 Paul Taylor
Intl. Herald Tribune . 20/9/2000 Sheridan Morley
The Times A- 13/9/2000 Benedict Nightingale
TLS B- 29/9/2000 Robert Shore

  From the Reviews:
  • "Nor can the fine acting distract you from the pretentiously "literary" quality of much of the dialogue (.....) Above all, the piece fails to persuade you that the strange, out-of-time experience that seems to bring a kind of resolution at the close, is earned in moral or dramatic terms." - Paul Taylor, The Independent

  • "If you can imagine Pirandello revised by an unholy combination of Anouilh and Pinter you will have some idea of what is going on here." - Sheridan Morley, International Herald Tribune

  • "Ice, hot pepper, nostalgia and the threat of poison are certainly part of the recipe of her 1987 Conversations After a Burial (.....) Add dry, dark humour and a lot of nervous tension, and you have a potion which, if not as rich as Art, sets the tastebuds enjoyably tingling. (...) She wants to tell us what it's like to cope with the death of an unloveable person who was nevertheless loved -- and, in my view, she succeeds." - Benedict Nightingale, The Times

  • "The hard truth, unfortunately, is that the earlier work seems unlikely to provide audiences with much more than a rarefied sort of archaeological interest. (...) But for all that it boasts a cast twice the size of Art (six to three), the self-consciously literary Conversations is really only half the play." - Robert Shore, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Paterfamilias Simon Weinberg passed away, and, according to his wishes, has just been buried -- not beside his wife, in the cemetery, but on his own land. The mourners cover the coffin with dirt as the play begins. Assembled are the three children, all in their forties now: Nathan, Édith, and Alex. Also in attendance is Pierre, their uncle (on their mother's side) and his wife, Julienne, -- as well as Élisa. Élisa is the odd woman out: formerly Alex's mistress, she actually loved Nathan (" 'to distraction' ").
       What plays itself out then is a small family drama. There are the tensions that might be expected at any such family gathering, and the efforts of coming to terms with past, present, and future. The father is laid to rest, but his presence is still felt. Some unexpected facts are revealed, and already the image of the family-father changes.
       The children, all unmarried, seem not to have much luck in love. Élisa's presence causes complications, and despite her best efforts she can't escape the gathering (her car breaks down).
       There's some dramatic tension here, and Reza manages the dialogue quite well. She throws in enough to move the play along at fair clip (for such a staid affair), including a lovemaking scene at a quite inappropriate locale. Some issues are resolved, and some of the characters can, eventually, look ahead. Reza does not oversimplify, and by and large the play rings fairly true.
       Still, there are no exceptional touches, and the issues are not entirely as gripping as in her later plays, 'Art' (see our review) or even The Unexpected Man (see our review).
       Potentially there is considerably more to this on the stage, it is less cerebral (and less literary) than Reza's later plays. As a text it is unexceptional, though certainly competent.

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Conversations after a Burial:
  • Faber publicity page
  • Portrait of Yasmina Reza, from The Observer
Reviews: Yasmina Reza: Other Books by Yasmina Reza under Review Other books of interest under review:
  • See the index of Drama at the complete review
  • See the index of French literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       French author Yasmina Reza, born in 1959, achieved her first great success with the play 'Art'. She has also written fiction and screenplays.

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