A television play by Tom Stoppard
, concerning spies, and based on the legend of Philoctetes
, who was left behind in the Greek expedition against Troy
, but subsequently discovered to be essential to their success, so they had to go back and persuade
him to join them.
Philo is a high-placed British spy in the Soviet bloc, an ex-national of a country that no longer exists, lonely, homesick, close only to his pet monkey. He decides he has served his paymasters long enough and is owed his freedom.
His bureaucratic expertise is in papers, and he gives himself ones suitable to get out. But somehow he is tumbled, and an assassin kills the man with a monkey: but it was not him. Rejected by the West for fear of being a double agent, he flees to the tiny Balkan country of Montebianca.
Now the Philoctetes resonance. The Western secret service discover they need him after all. They prepare an elaborate scheme to inveigle him into joining them. Meanwhile the other sidee are tracking him down too, out to kill him.
Philo has been hiding in a tiny village, seeing no-one. His loneliness is intense. He decides he can trust someone. Those whom he trusts feel the unfulfillable burden of his trust.