David Edgar’s play Pentecost is part of his trilogy of post-Cold War plays, together with The Shape of the Table (1990) and The Prisoner’s Dilemma (2001). It was first performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 12 October 1994.
The play is set in a church in an unnamed eastern European state not long after the fall of communism. A valuable fresco has been discovered in the church, hidden behind a large revolutionary mural, and international and local art historians meet to argue over who should claim ownership. Art curator Gabriella Pecs sees the fresco as a boost to the self-esteem of her nation, whereas the young Minister for Culture, Mikhail Czaba, plans on turning the church into a tourist hotspot, potentially yielding a fortune for the government. When a multinational group of armed asylum-seekers raid and occupy the church, taking the experts hostage, they soon realise that their human prisoners may be of far less value to them than the fresco itself. The fate of the painting becomes a metaphor for the future of the emergent nations of Eastern Europe as well as a focal point for conflicting attitudes towards art.
The Royal Shakespeare Company production was directed by Michael Attenborough and designed by Robert Jones. The cast was Charles Kay, Jan Ravens, Claire Carrie, Simon Cook, Nigel Cooke, Roy Ward, Steven Elliott, Glenn Hugill, Linal Haft, Judith Sweeney, Linford Brown, Nigel Clauzel, Quill Roberts, Katharine Rogers, Sean O'Callaghan, Natalie Izgol, Rebecca Underwood, Catherine Kanter, Sasha Behar and Thusitha Jayasundera.
The production transferred to the Young Vic, London, with performances from 31 May 1995.
Pentecost won the 1995 Evening Standard Award for Best Play.