Out of the Wings

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Dos viejos pánicos (c.1967), Virgilio Piñera

Two Old People in a Panic, translated by Kate Eaton


This is the opening of the play.
Sample text

Two single beds separated by a circular space marked out in red. Tabo is kneeling on one bed with his back to the audience as he cuts out figures from a magazine. On the other bed, facing the audience is Tota his wife; she takes a glass and a bottle of water out of a large handbag; photographs of male and female faces on the walls; white light.

TOTA: (To Tabo) Tabo.

TABO: (Not turning round.) What?

TOTA: (To Tabo.) Let's play

TABO: (Not looking at her.) No.

TOTA: No? What shall we do then, stare at each other? Don’t expect me to waste my time talking. After twenty years together do you think there’s anything left to say?

TABO: Well if there's nothing left to say then let’s keep quiet. (Pause: the takes a page from the magazine and without turning holds it out to Tota.) Look you can help me.

TOTA: Help you? (Laughing) Help you in particular? The only help I’d give you would be a big fat shove.

TABO: A big fat shove Tota?

TOTA: Yes, a big fat shove, like this (She does the action.) and you won't live to tell the tale.

TABO: A big fat shove? Where Tota?

TOTA: A big fat shove, a good big fat shove in the back when I see you standing on the edge of a precipice.

TABO: Are you sure Tota? I've got eyes in the back of my head. (He stands, goes to Tota's bed, climbs up and turns his back on Tota.) Look this is the precipice, I've got my back to you, you push me... push me Tota. (Tota pushes him, Tabo doesn't move.) See? You'd be better off cutting out figures, I told you it's the best thing we can do. Cut out and burn. Yes Tota, we've got to burn people. Yesterday I burned two hundred; today I’m thinking of burning five hundred. (He gets up slowly, then gets down and goes towards his own bed.)

TOTA: (Who has started to speak as Tabo is getting up; in a warning voice.) Tabo... (Pause) Tabo come here. (She raises her voice.) Bag of bones, old scarecrow, come here.

TABO: (Back in his original position cutting out figures again.) Today I will burn five hundred.

TOTA: (She stands, hands on hips and throws her body back.) Tabo, don't shout after I’ve shown it to you. Tabo, Tabito come here... it's for your own good. When I’ve shown it to you and you have a fit, I'm going to leave you lying there twitching and foaming at the mouth. (Pause) Have you any idea what might happen to you if you have a fit? You're not a well man Tabo, what did that doctor say to you? (She puts on a man's voice.) Don't over-excite yourself Mr. Tabo, your blood pressure is extremely high and the slightest thing...

TABO: (Not turning round, pleading.) Tota, don't go on.

TOTA:  (Getting down from the bed.) Don't go on? (She walks towards Tabo still talking.) What do you mean don't go on Tabo? (She laughs.) Two heart attacks Tabo, the beginnings of a hemiplegia, a pulmonary oedema, sixty years; all those things leave their mark. (Pause) We're going to play and if you don’t please me, I'm going to show it to you and this time you won't live to tell the tale. (Pause, she nears the bed and puts a hand on his shoulder.) You old cretin, do you think things are like they used to be? No, things aren’t like they used to be. You can't go out now and leave Tota in the house wondering: “Where has Tabo got to? What can he be doing? Who’s he sleeping with? Who's spending his money?” (She puts a hand in one of his jacket pockets.) Not a penny here Tabo. (She puts the other hand in the other pocket.) Not a penny here either. Things aren’t like they used to be, and since things aren’t like they used to be, when I show it to you you'll have a fit; and as the heart attacks, the hemiplegia and the oedema all leave their mark, this time you won't live to tell the tale. (Pause; she puts her hands on his shoulders and forces him to turn his head towards her.) Speak to me Tabo, answer me, decide Tabo, decide.

TABO: (With a violent movement.) You can’t show it to me Tota, you can't do that to your Tabo; you don't want your Tabo to die.

TOTA: (Laughing.) Hark at him! Same as ever: just as if things were like they used to be: Tota crazy with love for Tabo; Tota pleading with Tabo. (She Pleads.) Tota kneeling before Tabo; (She kneels.) Tota weeping because Tabo has another woman (She weeps. Pause) Pull yourself together old man! Of course I don't want Tabo to die, if Tabo dies then Tota's left on her own and on her own she gets bored. But Tabo doesn't want to die, isn't that true Tabo? Isn't it true that you don't want to die? (She grabs him beneath the shoulders.) Come on let me help you. (In an amorous voice) Come on, your Tota doesn't want you to die... (She heaves him off the bed.) Come on, make an effort. (She stands him up.) There we are. Now, let's play.

TABO; (Returns to his bed, kneels, picks up the scissors again.) I'm not going to play Tota, oh no, I'm not going to play. (He picks up the figure of a male swimmer.) You too... do you remember? (He lifts the figure up above his head.) You too Tota; what was he called? (Thinks) Paco! You got up to horrors with Paco. (He lowers the figure.) How many years did you live with him? Was it five or six? And what about that plastic surgery you had done? How much did it cost? And that car you gave Paco? What about that car?

TOTA: (Hysterical.) Be quiet! Paco drowned in the English Channel. May he rest in peace. But it's just you and me now, you and me and you're afraid Tabo, yes you're afraid that I'm going to show it to you and if I show it to you, you won't live to tell the tale. Come here, come on, I'm going to show it to you. (She starts to walk towards the bed with determined stride.)

TABO: (Shouting.) Tota, don't do it. I'm sorry I mentioned Paco. May he rest in peace. (Pleads) Let me cut out my figures. I need to burn a lot of people Tota. If we start to play then I won't have time to cut out the whole magazine. I promise you that I won't burn Paco, I swear it. (He takes the figure and tears it into little pieces.) You see?

TOTA: (Who meanwhile has arrived at her bed, kneels and takes a hand mirror out of her handbag; she turns to Tabo, her voice is sweet.) Have you finished speaking yet? Have you got any more rubbish to spout, anything else to say about Paco?

TABO: I've finished, Tota, I've finished.

TOTA: (To Tabo.) Look Tabo.

TABO: Excuse me, but I'm very busy. What do you want?

TOTA: I told you to look.

TABO: I'm sorry Tota.

TOTA: Look what I've got in my hand.

TABO: What have you got in your hand Tota?

TOTA: (In a mocking voice.) You know better than me.

TABO: (Pretending.) I don't know; I really don't know what you've got in your hand.

TOTA: You do know what I've got in my hand. (Pause) If you don't remember you can turn your head and look.

TABO: It wouldn’t be worth it, thank you. (Pause) Tota, what have you got in your hand?

TOTA: Something you can use to look at yourself, Tabo; something that fills you with fear, something...

TABO: (Interrupting her, shouting.) Stop it! Stop it!

TOTA: Are we going to play then?

TABO: Forget it Tota, we're too old to play.

TOTA: Well we're too old to play tennis or football, but the game we play is for old people wouldn't you say?

TABO: It's a dangerous game Tota; we could play it once a month, but every day... I mean yesterday I thought we wouldn't make it to the finish.

TOTA: You don’t fool me you old hypocrite! You don’t fool me; I know you same as I’d given birth to you. The truth is you love playing the game.

TABO: I love it, I love it, but today, today in particular, I have a lot of work to do. Every day there are more and more young people in the world Tota, and if I don't hurry up and burn them... well... you know.

TOTA: It would be useless, completely useless; if I told you... (She falls silent.)

TABO: Go on, tell me Tota.

TOTA: It'll only annoy you Tabo, but you should know what you're up against. (Pause) Well, I read today in a pediatric journal that one hundred million children were born last year. Did you know that?

TABO: One hundred million... (Pause) So what...? I'll burn them one by one. (Pause) Listen Tota, listen to me: from today, from this moment on, I’ll have an awful lot of work to do, (He laughs.) an awful lot of work. (Pause; when Tabo says "work", Tota gets off the bed and with the mirror hidden behind her back goes to join him.) Every day I will burn one hundred thousand newborns, fifty thousand five year olds, thirty thousand ten year olds, twenty-five thousand twenty year olds and ten thousand twenty-five year olds.

TOTA: (Touches Tabo on the Shoulder.) Tabo...

TABO: You touched me?

TOTA: I touched you.

TABO: What do you want now?

TOTA: I want you to look in the mirror.

TABO: (Covering his face with his hands.) I'm sorry Tota, I can't.

TOTA: Can’t you? (She places herself in front of Tabo and climbs up onto the bed.) Don't you like looking at yourself in the mirror?

TABO: (Whimpering.) No I don't like it Tota and you know it.

TOTA: Why don't you like it?

TABO: I'm too old to look at myself; it makes me afraid. When you first met me you know they used to call me Pretty Boy. And now Tota, now...

TOTA: Don’t be so sentimental; now you're hideous and if you don't play the game I shall force you to look at yourself in the mirror.

TABO: (Begging.) No Tota, for the sake of all you love best in this world.

TOTA: I don't love anything in this world any more, not even you; so...

TABO: (Trying to buy time.) So when I was young they used to call me Pretty Boy but it's been a while since anyone called me that... That's why I told you I don't like young people, they remind me...

TOTA: (Interrupting him.) I'm not listening, you're not sending me to sleep with the tale of Pretty Boy, You play the game or you look in the mirror, think about it, because if you look at yourself you might have a heart attack.

TABO: I’ll think about it Tota.

TOTA: (With her left hand she takes Tabo's hands and pulls them away from his face at the same time putting the mirror in front of his face.) Look at yourself.

TABO: (He hugs Tota trying to get the mirror off her; she has hidden it once more behind her back.) You old whore, I'm going to strangle you. Selfish bitch! So you thought you could play the game and Tabo could go to hell, eh? I’ve lost patience with you, you evil slag. This is your final day. (They roll onto the floor stopping in the middle of the circle.)

TOTA: (She has fallen on top of Tabo, leaving the mirror on the bed.) And you, you old pimp, burning effigies of the young. Why don't you really burn them? Go on; go out into the street and start burning people. (Pause) You're an idiot Tabo, that's what you are.

TABO: (Struggles.) Let me go, you dirty whore, let me go.

TOTA: Whore? What more could I have wished for Tabo? What more could I have wished for than to be your whore, but no I'm just your old lady, your frowsy, blowsy, lousy, stinky old lady. (Pause, she lets him go and stands.) Come on, get up, we're going to play. (She gives him two slaps and a kick...) Get up!

TABO: (Standing with difficulty.) My bones ache, Tota.

TOTA: (Helping him to get up). It’s your own fault. Instead of pleasing me you kept on cutting out figures and I had to force you, (Pause. She passes her hand over his head.) Come on my darling Tabo, come on...

TABO: (Resigned.) All right, let's go... (He places himself opposite Tota.)

TOTA: Ready?

TABO: When you are. (He puts his hands on her neck.)

TOTA: Begin.

Tabo squeezes her neck as if to strangle her. Tota remains motionless with her arms clamped against her thighs. Finally she falls very slowly to the floor.

TABO: (Looks at her and gives her a kick.) You died you old whore,

TOTA: I died Tabo; I'm dead.

TABO: What's it like?

TOTA: Well your breath ebbs away from you, your sight fades until you're blind, your hearing goes, and...

TABO: What else, Tota?

TOTA: Well as you're already dead you can say and do whatever you like,

TABO: Whatever you like Tota? Are you sure?

TOTA: Positive. It never fails.

TABO: What about the consequences? Have you thought about the consequences?

TOTA: When you’re dead there are no more consequences, the last consequence was to die.

TABO: (Shakes his head.) That's logical, completely logical, but...

TOTA: But what?

TABO: I don't know... What if there are consequences? I mean, I don't want any trouble with the police.

TOTA: (Laughing.) What police, Tabo; the police of the dead? They haven’t invented the uniform yet... (Laughs again) You're a child, an infant. (Pause) Put me to the test.

TABO: That’s better. (Pause) I know, tell me something that you've never told me before.

TOTA: (She stands, still keeping her eyes closed and her arms crossed over her chest.) That's a good idea Tabo! There are so many things that I've never told you.

TABO: Think hard, something that you were always frightened to tell me.

TOTA:  Oh yes of course, frightened, very frightened: frightened of the consequences.

TABO:  I'm intrigued Tota, most intrigued; go on, go on...

TOTA: (Places herself opposite Tabo.) I'm going to tell you something that happened two months ago.

TABO: Two months Tota? Did you say two months? Let me think. (Pause) No I don't believe...

TOTA:  Yes Tabo two months ago. (Pause) Do you remember the money that went missing two months ago?

TABO: Oh don't remind me, Tota, don't remind me.  I was hoping to buy a batch of old magazines with that money and then, suddenly, it disappeared. I kept the money in my jacket pocket and you said that probably one of those pickpockets...

TOTA: No Tabo, it wasn't a pickpocket, it was me. When you were asleep, I saw the jacket hanging there on the peg, I took the money and the very next day I had me a slap-up meal in the restaurant.

TABO: (Throwing himself on her.) You old whore! I'm going to rip your heart out!

TOTA: (Very calmly.) Tabo a dead person doesn't have a heart, or a body. You ridiculous saying that and throwing yourself on top of me. Go on get off. I am nothing more than a corpse without fear of the consequences.

TABO: (He moves away, hanging his head.) That's true Tota, a corpse... (Pause) It's marvellous, it's as if...

TOTA: (Interrupting him.) Oh stop talking rubbish. Of course it's marvellous, that's why I invented the game. (Pause) I know, tell me that I've been condemned to death.

TABO: Tota, my dear old girl, you have been condemned to death.

TOTA: (Feigning extreme terror.) To death; did you say to death?

TABO: (Weeping.) Without right of appeal Tota. Without right of appeal.

TOTA: Without right of appeal... (Pause) And has the judge has been instructed as to my situation?

TABO: How can he fail to know; how can fail to know that you have killed me!

TOTA: Well of course the judge knows that I've killed you. What he doesn't know however is that I'm dead. I've never known them kill the same person twice.

TABO: It's marvellous Tota, marvellous. It occurs to me that if I should want to kill someone, I should die first and then kill them afterwards. That way there can't be any consequences.

TOTA: And if the person that you want to kill dies before you can kill them so that when you kill them they're already dead, then it's even more marvellous.

TABO: Tota, mock the judge.

TOTA:  (Pleading.) Your Honour, I come to beseech your pardon. If you condemn me to death then you will deprive the world of the first dead person who died in order to be condemned to death; Your Honour, don't kill me twice.

TABO: (Applauding.) Bravo Tota, Bravo! You are the perfect dead woman. I'm going to bestow upon you the Deadly Order of Death. (He acts as though pinning on a medal.) And accept this diploma. (He acts as though reading a diploma.) Award of merit to Tota the Great, who died for the sake of humanity to show her fellow beings that when one is dead one needn't fear the consequences.

TOTA: (Opens her eyes, lowers her arms.) That's enough. It's your turn now, go on. (They reach the bed. Tota sits, adopting the posture of a great Lady. Tabo kneels, undoes the bottle and fills the glass with water; he adds some white powder from a small envelope. He holds the glass and stares at Tota.)

TABO: (Holding the glass out to Tota.) My love, drink this nepenthe. It will make you forget Paco.

TOTA: (Dramatic and grotesque, she lifts her hand to her heart.) Paco, Paco; how that name breaks my heart.

TABO: When you drink this nepenthe you will erase Paco from the book of your life.

TOTA: You drink it first. Leave me half. You need to erase Paco from your life as well.

TABO: But Tota, there was never anything between Paco and me I couldn't have...

TOTA: I know you couldn't have, but you must drink this nepenthe so that you never mention his name again. Drink.

TABO: Shall I drink it?

TOTA: Yes drink it. You'll soon get Paco out of your head. Then I'll drink the rest of it and I’ll get Paco out of my head too.

TABO: (Drinks half the glass.) It tastes like hell.

TOTA: It does, but after hell... Nirvana.

TABO: (He holds the glass out to Tota.) Drink.

TOTA: (She holds the glass up to the light and scrutinizes it.) To think that this marvellous liquid holds the key to forgetting Paco. (Pause) Paco, Paco, you have destroyed my heart. (Pause) Paco my love, will you come today? Tota is waiting for you, always, always... (Pause) Do you remember what happened the night that we sailed down the Danube? You swore eternal love to me Paco; and that kiss, Paco? That kiss of yours that was like a fabulous pearl on my lips, Paco, Paco, I'm going to forget you forever and ever and ever... (She cackles. Tabo meanwhile has lain down on the bed with his hands crossed over his chest.) So you wanted to kill me did you shitty pimp. But Tota is much cleverer than you. (She goes over and spits at him.) You wanted to give me hemlock not nepenthe, but no-one gets the better of Tota (She kicks him.) I hope the worms eat you! (She looks in her handbag, pulls out a black handkerchief and places it over Tabo's head and face.) And I won’t ask you one single question. You can lie there hoping until you rot you old bastard. (She goes over to Tabo's bed, sits and starts to rip up the cut out figures.) (Sings) "Tabo went for wool, they fleeced him instead... he came home poisoned, he came home dead..." (She laughs. Pause. She knocks twice on the bed. Pause. She sits up. Pause. She stands.) You can come in Paco. (Pause; she walks towards the proscenium.) I've already killed him. (As though someone were whispering in her ear) What, Paco? What do you mean is he really dead? (As though leading Paco by the arm) Come. (She starts to walk over to the bed where Tabo lies.) Come and check for yourself. (She reaches the bed and takes the handkerchief away from Tabo.) Take a good look at him; poisoned with poison. He collapsed in a heap. Go on Paco, touch him; he's colder than an ice cube. (She acts as though listening to Paco.) Yes my love, we shall leave here forever. Who will bury him? Why the council of course in a pauper's grave. (She acts as though taking Paco by the arm and walks towards the back of the stage.) Let's go. Let's go my love. (She reaches the back of the stage, turns, looks towards Tabo's bed where her handbag is.) Wait my darling, I've forgotten my handbag and...  Well as you know your letters are there. (She takes the bag and turns towards Tabo.) Tabo... (Pause; a little louder.) Tabo... That's enough now old man. Don't play dead any more. (Pause) Tabo... (Shouting) Tabo... (Pause; walks and stops opposite Tabo's bed.) Tabo have you forgotten that when I say Tabo for the second time you have to get up? Tabo are you listening to me? I'm losing patience Tabo and I'm going to kick you... (Pause; she shakes Tabo by the feet.) Come on, look it's nearly six and we have to drink our milk; I don't want you saying that you feel ill later because you drank it at eight. Come on Tabo. (She shakes him again. She puts her hands on her head.) Good God, what a lot of patience you need with this old man! The other day you spent the whole of the moment when I talk to Paco, scratching your nose and all your other bits. Do you remember Tabo? Don't you know that you have to stay rigid when I talk? Ri-gid you old git (Pause; she leans forward and whips the handkerchief away) and now this this delay (She gives him a couple of slaps.) Move! So you're going to keep on playing dead are you? What do you want Tabo, what do you want? Watch it, because I'm going to beat you from here to kingdom come. (She puts her hands on her hips and looks at him carefully.) I know what...! I'll tickle you. Do you hear me? I'm going to tickle you. No? Oh yes sirree. (She squats and tickles his stomach. Tabo doesn't move.) Like tickling a dead man! (Pause, shakes her head.) No, no, no, he's not dead, that’s impossible; when has a laxative ever killed anyone? (She tickles him again, shakes him, slaps his face again and gives him a couple of kicks.) Mother of God! What's the matter with you? Tabo, Tabo, can you hear me? Bastard, son-of-a-bitch, can you hear me? What if he's really dead? No, no he can't be, he can't do that to me. (She runs to Tabo's bed, looks in her bag, takes out the mirror, goes back to the bed, squats down, puts the mirror in front of his mouth, his nose, touches him.) He's colder than an ice-cube. (Pause; she twists her hair and starts to walk around the bed shouting.) No, Tabo! You can't do this to me, you can't die and leave Tota all alone; we have to die together, you know that's best, we can tell each other everything then because we won't be afraid. Tabo, what am I going to do alone in this house? Come on, wake up, if you wake up you can have a whole day cutting out the figures of young people and I'll help you burn them. (She runs towards her bed. Sits) So now what? Is it true that Tabo is no more? (She looks towards Tabo's bed.) Shit, you're a shit! Do you hear me Tabo? You're a shit.

TABO: What did you say Tota?

TOTA: I said you're a shit. (Pause, she stands up rapidly.) Tabo... No, it can't be! Did you speak? But you're really dead Tabo. (Pause, she goes to Tabo's bed but doesn't get too close.) Did you speak Tabo? (Tabo stays silent.) Damn it! Maybe I'm hearing voices like Joan of Arc? (She looks at Tabo again.) What an idiot I am! He's deader than a dead man and there I go thinking that he spoke.

TABO: Who's dead Tota?

TOTA: (She runs to Tabo's side.) So it’s true; you bastard, you're going to pay for this. You were playing at being dead were you? (She shakes him violently.)

TABO: (He stands slowly.) Come on Tota, it's not such a big deal; anyway I wanted to give you a bit of excitement. I thought...

TOTA: (Interrupting.) A bit of excitement; what are you talking about? Excitement; what's that supposed to mean my boy?

TABO: (Goes to Tota and takes her hands.) Tota, I thought...

TOTA: (Shakes his hands off violently.) Let go! Oh so a bit of excitement eh? (She takes the figures and tears them up.) I’ll give you excitement. Tabo, come here...

TABO: (Weeping.) Don't do that to your Tabo.

TOTA: (Threatens him with her fist.) I told you to come here Tabo. You're not my Tabo; you're just an old man who's married to an old woman. All that about your being my Tabo and my being your Tota ended a very long time ago. Don't you ever look at yourself? Go on, look at yourself, take the mirror and look at yourself. That's why you hate anyone that's young.

TABO: (Goes towards Tota's bed.) You do too Tota, you do too.

TOTA: (She takes one of his hands and puts the scissors in the other.) Hate? Me? Don't make me laugh. Young people fascinate me. Anyway, I never look back. What's past is past. The only thing that interests me now is the present. (She runs her hands over her body. She laughs grotesquely, grabs Tabo by the arm and pulls him close to her face.) Look. (As she talks she touches her face.) Look, wrinkles here and more wrinkles over there, crow's feet here and bags there, craters and pits everywhere. (She laughs again.) As for these (She touches her breasts.) They droop to my stomach, and my hands, look at my hands! Riddled with arthritis (Pause) you’re worse than me though. All my defects and top of that your prostate... At least I don't wet myself, but you're a sprinkler, old man, a sprinkler... and the smell... (She spits.) And yet despite all that you’re still dreaming of the Fountain of Eternal Youth. (She roars with laughter, pause, she points with her index finger to the figures, takes one and gives it to Tabo.) Cut off its head.

TABO: You are relentless. (He cuts the head off the figure.)

TOTA: And now die again, come on, quick, die, we haven't got much time. (Tabo goes to his bed and takes up his previous position. Tota goes to Tabo's bed.) Tabo, Tabo...

TABO: (He sits up, aims at Tota with his index finger.) Bang!

TOTA: Dead I am.

TABO: (To the audience.)

My wife is dead and I am free

I'll drink because I'm glad

When I came home without a cent

Her cries would drive me mad.

She was a heartless libertine

A robot made of steel

Never in any season

Did she know that love was real

All she had was witchcraft,

Her bottle of bile, her moans

Her infernal retinue of alarms

Her rattle of crickets and bones

Here I am alone and free!

I can get drunk and more

until night comes then without fear

I'll lie down on the floor.

(He lies down next to Tota.)

TOTA: (Opens her eyes, sits up.) Did you lie down yet?

TABO: Yes, libertine. (He opens his eyes.)

TOTA: All right you old scarecrow, now we're dead.

TABO: That's right Tota we're dead. (Tilting his head towards Tota's side) It's like you say; I'm not scared.

TOTA: Not even of the mirror?

TABO: No Tota, I'm neither old nor young, I'm a dead man now (Pause.) And where can Tabo and Tota have got to?

TOTA: (Stretches her arm out and points to the back of the stage.) Look at them, look at them! They're scared.

TABO: (Throws his body forward.) Yes they're scared really scared. Now it's their turn to be afraid.

TOTA: That's right, they spend their lives scaring us, and now...

TABO: Now they're in our hands. Now they'll have to pay. (Walks towards the back of the stage) Just look at them, look at them... (Shouting) Tabo, Tabo here I am!

TOTA: (Follows Tabo, shouting.) Tota, Tota here I am!

TABO: (Advances further.) Your time has come Tabo. Didn't you marry me off to Tota? Well now it's time to pay. (He acts as though catching someone.) I've got you now Tabo (He repeats the action.) Gently now, gently; no Tabo, don't scream. (He acts as though covering his mouth.) It's useless. The police can't enter this house. I'm the chief of all the police in the world. (Pause) You say you didn't make me? That you would have liked me to marry Tota but that if I had married Lily it would have been all the same to you? I don't believe you Tabo, not even if you swear it on the court of heaven itself. No Tabo, I'm not going to pardon you your life. You made me marry Tota who is the most disgusting woman in the whole land. Isn't that true Tota? You are the most disgusting woman in the whole land?

TOTA: Yes, I like to hear you say that, I like it very much, and you are also the most disgusting man in the whole land. (Pause) Tota, are you listening to me? You married me off to disgusting Tabo when I was in love with Tony, but you didn't take that into account. Tota you're a witch, that's what you are, an egotistical witch but now its time to pay. You say you did it for my own good? No Tota, you did it to give yourself class. What a gem you are Tota! You took advantage of my fear: she's frightened, she won't make a fuss, she'll be happy with her lot: she'll be disgraced but what the hell as long as I can give myself class. Where's your class now Tota? I'm the one with class now and you're in my hands missy, now you're the one that's scared and I'm the one that's scaring you; the final fear, Tota. Are you listening? The final fear.

TABO: No Tabo, there's no priest here to hear your confession. You say you're going to meet your maker without confessing your sins? What bad luck, Tabo, what bad luck. It wouldn't change anything though; God himself would condemn you. What? You want to repent? Go on then, but your repentance won’t save you.

TOTA: Tota also wants a confessor in order to repent her sins and Tabo another; both of them are being very reasonable now, asking forgiveness and saying that they'll be good in the future.

TABO: Good in the grave... which is all that is left to them.

TOTA: (Laughing.) The grave, the grave! You're a genius, an absolute genius. In the future Tabo and Tota will be very good in the grave.

(As both actors speak they zigzag across the stage until they reach the proscenium; they should give the impression of being drunk; they stretch out their hands as though throwing the corpses of Tabo and Tota into the orchestra pit; to the audience, in unison.)

TOTA: We're not afraid now.

TABO: (Turns to Tota.) Poor things, they died thinking that we thought they were guilty!

TOTA: It’s true Tabo, it's like you said. Fear helps you to lie. (Pause; she shakes her head and lets each arm fall.) What liars we are! What a pair of liars!

TABO: (Repeats the gesture.) What a pair of liars!


The above sample taken from the translation Two Old People in a Panic by Kate Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 18 June 2012.

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