Pas Vdekjes (After death) is a one act comedy set in Albanian Salonica Club in 1910. Mr Adham-Uti is a healer and linguist, whom as created a new Albanian alphabet to be used by Turk immigrants. He is waiting to sell his new creation to Skëndo Bey, owner of the Salonica Club and the Albanian newspaper ’Lirijan’.
The play is about what people will say about us after our death, and it’s hilarious. At first read it made me think of the comedy of error types of plays by the likes of Oscar Wilde. This play fit so well into this types of plays I was surprised that Çajupi hadn’t spent any time in Great Britain or Ireland at all. But when I thought through it Wilde and Çajupi aren’t that similar. Or to put it a different way, this is just in part a comedy of error. There is an error in it, and it’s quite funny, but the error comes quite late in the play. This made me realise that the humour in Wilde’s plays aren’t just the misunderstanding of the plays, but the type of character he writes about. This is where the similarity of Wilde and Çajupi are and where much of the humour of After death is.
When you write a book or a play, or anything, where someone or something is placed into a universe you have to tell the audience how to understand this universe. Especially if the universe isn’t the universe you know (either because of technology, country, planet, time or class). A good example of this is in the Nostalgia Critic’s review of Richie Rich. In one scene there Richie Rich calls his father when the father is in a meeting with the president. Richie Rich wants to tell his father about him getting a new spot, and the father brushes him off. The Nostalgia Critic points out that this scene doesn’t work, because we don’t know who is acting out of bound, the father or the son.
In Wilde and Çajupi all of the characters are acting out of bound, which means you as the audience are free to laugh at them. They aren’t meant to be well rounded characters and while you have some guys who “win”, no character is “right”. Their aren’t caricatures, but still we can recognise the quack, the man in love and the servant who wants money.
“A lie is the salt of truth,” scene 3.
I also learned something about Albanian culture. Googling that phrase I learned that in Albania salt is connected to lying. In the same sense that you are willing to handle an X amount of salt in your food, you are willing to handle an X amount of lying. This made so much sense to me. Learning while reading, what can be better?
The play is online and you will probably be able to read it in one go. If you like Wilde or comedy of error type plays I think you will enjoy this as much as I did.
The play can be read here, in English: http://www.albanianliterature.net/authors/classical/cajupi/cajupi_drama.html