What do we learn from this play? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pentecost, an intense drama by David Edgar explores the political dissension and conflicts that resulted from the collapse of the Soviet empire. The play is "Thomas Mann’s dictum about the destiny of humankind asserting itself in political terms." Like Pentecost, the many factions that argue over the newly discovered fresco, speak in various tongues, and there is confusion and conflict among the people who want to remove the fresco and those who would have it remain intact. In contentious debates over the fresco there are an Orthodox priest, a Catholic priest, an American minister who uses slang, a skin-headed supported nationalist leader, and an American art-historian, Leo Katz, who is skeptical of the "provenance of the fresco" and certainly opposes trying to remove it from the wall. Gabriella Pecs, a local museum curator, has made the discovery of this fresco and believes that it marks an earlier beginning of the Renaissance; but British art historian, Oliver Davenport is skeptical. On the other hand, Katz suggests that it is not as old as thought and wishes to prove his theory. But, while they engage in argument, something happens that overshadows their arguments.

Invading this coterie, refugees from Eastern Europe and North Africa, together with two British hostages rush into the church. These interlopers force the others to exchange clothes with them and lock the church doors. There is much contention and threats to kill hostages as assaults are planned and phone calls go in and out. However, authorities on the outside have listened to all that has transpired because they slipped a bug into Davenport's insulin medication. So, like Pentecost fire added to the many languages spoken, there is an explosion and the sectarian division comes to a flaming end as German commandos charge through a wall firing. 

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