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Mrs Petrov’s Shoe

26 July 2011

Two short excerpts from Mrs Petrov’s Shoe. The play was written with the assistance of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and first produced by Theatre @ Risk at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs in 2006. In 2009 it had productions at Griffith University and at Sydney’s New Theatre. The play was a Finalist for the 2005 Griffin Playwriting Award, and the winner of the 2006 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award Drama Script (Stage).

The complete script is published by Playlab.

Synopsis
Anna Lubansky shoots to prominence with her first novel Mrs Petrov’s Shoe, the emotional narrative of a 9-year-old girl’s struggle to reconcile her Australian reality with her parents’ Central European heritage, set in the Cold War era of the early 1960s. Promoted as heavily autobiographical, the book has garnered a harvest of awards and Anna’s multicultural star is shining brightly in the literary firmament—until the real fiction is uncovered …

‘Mrs Petrov’s Shoe is a remarkable play.‘ Vanessa Lahey, Australian Stage, 13 August 2009

The construction is outstanding . . . It employs simplicity and control in the telling, but the lightness and sureness of technical touch should not be confused with insignificance of purpose or achievement . . . Janaczewska has crafted a profound and engaging play. The script shows the playwright’s signature level of sophistication in conceptualisation of dramatic style and structure, yet this is an engaging and delightful script which audiences will greatly enjoy.’ Judges’ Comments, 2006 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards

‘Mrs Petrov’s Shoe is a delightfully written script.‘ The Program, 2006

‘Mrs Petrov’s Shoe is as much about cultural identity as it is about literary scandal and it is very funny.‘ Melbournestage Online, 2006

Theatre @ Risk, 2006

Excerpt 1:

ANIA
Daddy, are we a normal family?

RADEK
(Laughing)
 Well, that depends.

ANIA
On what?

RADEK
You think a normal family is.

Lights a cigarette. 



ANIA
Everyone at school’s talking about that spy

RADEK
Skripov?

ANIA
Yes, him. Miss Scott said he had a network of letter drops.

RADEK
Mm …

ANIA
That’s how he contacted the other spies in his ring.

RADEK
Apparently.

ANIA
And Mrs Petrov?

RADEK
What about her?

ANIA
She was a spy as well, wasn’t she?

RADEK
She worked for Soviet intelligence, yes. But she defected, which means she chose to stay here.

ANIA
Because she didn’t want to go home?

RADEK
Yes.

ANIA
Like you and Mum?

RADEK
(Coughing) 
Yes—no. Not like us.

ANIA
Why does Mum go round to Ciocia Teresa’s all the time?

RADEK
Teresa’s on her own with a young baby. Things are very difficult for her. Nina—we both try to help out.

ANIA
Why?

RADEK
Because she’s our friend. And because that’s what you do in a civilised society, you help people in trouble.

ANIA
Where’s Mr Bogdanski?

RADEK
He can’t be with Teresa right now.

ANIA
Did he run away because their baby is retarded?

RADEK
The Bogdanski’s baby is fine. He has some business to sort out, that’s all.

ANIA
But I heard Ciocia Teresa tell Mum that it was born backwards.

RADEK
Most babies are born head first, but occasionally one is born feet first. That’s what Teresa meant.

Ania arranges her pencils. Considers Radek’s explanation.


ANIA
Do you believe in God?

RADEK
Problem is I’m not sure God believes in me.

Puts out his cigarette and leaves.


Ania makes notes.



ANIA
Normal families: Eat in front of the TV. 1.
2. Have Fitted carpet, and 3. fried bread and cousins.

New Theatre, 2009

Excerpt 2:

Alone on the back deck, Ania is drawing another map.



ANIA
Map for ASIO counter intelligence—not to scale. Here’s X and this dotted line marks the route taken by Nina Latkiewicz to secret meetings. Still trying to locate the Metaphorical Rocks where important secrets are hidden. Over here is Teresa Bogdanska’s house. 16.40 hours, reckied the Bogdanski place. Books in foreign language—possibly Russian—on shelf. 16.45 Interrogated suspect about whereabouts of her husband. 16.57 suspect went to bathroom. Examined books. Note: must ask Dad if the Polish Paradox is like the Tasmanian Tiger. Strong possibility that either Aunty Teresa or Mr Bogdanski might be a double agent. Teresa may look like a housewife, but as we all know, appearances can be deceptive, and translation is pretty damn close to espionage.

© Noëlle Janaczewska

From → Plays

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