Skip to content

The Cosmonauts’ Last Message…

Two Soviet cosmonauts orbit the earth in radio silence forgotten by their controllers. Below them a Russian erotic dancer, a Norwegian peace negotiator, a Scottish civil servant and his speech therapist wife, a French UFO researcher, a policewoman and a dominatrix all play out their interwoven stories of loss and desire.

Bernard: One day all the stories of the world will have been made into films set in American high schools.

The Proprietor: I long for that day.

The Cosmonaut play began with an image of loneliness, the two forgotten Cosmonauts circling the earth. I was probably remembering a story about the men who were on The Mir Space Station when the Soviet Union collapsed. I also have a distinct memory of the plays germinal moment being a story about the refugee who lived in Charles De Gaulle airport. I imagined him walking, or orbiting, around the circular terminal forever.* The story then bounces from the world of the lonely orbiters down to the people on earth and back up again – back and forth forming the structure of the play.

For this play I set myself the challenge of committing to the first idea: whatever it was, however crazy it seemed. I never knew what was coming next. It was my first experiment in this type of writing and it has an innocence which I have probably never recaptured. The play is full of connections and inter-twinings which I had no idea about at the time.

*(I wrote a short play about him for the Traverse which I have since lost. I understand that there is an opera about him. There is a film. My friend the playwright April De Angelis has written a play about him. I wonder how many more pieces of art that man inspired?)


Title: The Cosmonauts’ Last Message…
Premier Place and Date: London, 1999
Director and Producing Company: Vicky Featherstone, Paines Plough
Publication Details: Methuen ISBN 0413740102 and in “Greig Plays 1” ISBN 0413772535
Translation Details: German, French, Bulgarian, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian
Foreign Performances: France ’99, Scandinavia ’99, Germany ’99, Brazil ’02, Czech ’03, Estonia ’04
Awards, Prizes: John Whiting Award
Characters: 6 (Male – 4 Female – 2)