Wilfrido Maria Guerrero CHARACTERS: Maria Teresa Ernesto Ernesting Consuelo Oscar
THE ACTION TAKES PLACE IN MANILA. TIME: NINE IN THE EVENING
SCENE: The living room of MARIA TERESA’s house. At the rear center, a curtain door, leading out to the corridor. Against the corridor wall is a table and a large vase with flowers.
The left of the corridor leads to CONSUELO’s bedroom, the right to the main entrance. At the left, a door leading to MARIA TERESA’s bedroom. At the right, a high open balcony covered with hanging plants. At front left, a sofa, two chairs and floor lamp. A small rug beside the sofa. At front right, a table, lamp and a chair. As the curtain rises, the stage is dark. The only light is the soft moonlight streaming in through the open balcony. Far away, in the distance, somebody is playing Debussy’s “Claire de Lune.” Presently, vigorous knocks are heard. Silence. Then further knocks. Slowly the left door opens, the interior light flooding the stage. CONSUELO, carrying a lighted candle, appears and closes the door again. CONSUELO is about forty, clothed in drab saya and camisa and wearing chinelas. She has a pañolon hastly thrown about her shoulders. The knocks become more violent. Greatly puzzled, CONSUELO walks to the balcony.
Consuelo: is that you, Maria Teresa? I left the door unlocked. Ernesto:
Let me in, Consuelo!
(Consuelo looks out and gasps. There is a great fear in her eyes, as she continues holding the candle. The knocks become more persistent. She tries to go back to the bedroom.) Consuelo:
everybody’s asleep! Ernesto:
let me in, Consuelo!
(As the knocks become louder, Consuelo trembles with fright.) Consuelo:
(after a pause)
push the door open. It is unlocked.
(Pulling herself together, Consuelo goes out, rear. Presently, Ernesto comes in, followed by Consuelo. She stares at him questioningly. Ernesto is about thirtytwo, tall, rather slim, careless in his way of wearing clothes. His hair is a little disarranged. There is an intense expression about his face, revealing inner turmoil. He looks tired.) Ernesto:
(Trying to make his laugh sound natural)
well, Consuelo, why do you keep staring at me? Didn’t you recognize your brother Ernesto? Consuelo:
I did. That’s why – Ernesto: what’s the lighted candle for? No electric lights in this house?
(Lighting a cigarette and looking towards the balcony)
ah, you obviously prefer the gentle, caressing radiance of the moonlight. (Laughing bitterly) I like the electric light better. It’s less romantic.
(Consuelo blows the candle out, and stands facing him.)
Consuelo: I was saying my prayers before the altar— Ernesto: ah, you were praying—for me, perhaps? Consuelo:
Ernesto! Why did you come?
(Ernesto turns on the light of the table lamp.)
Ernesto: I hate darkness. I’ve lived so long in darkness.
(He sits down on a chair, all the while smiling mockingly.)
why don’t you answer me? Ernesto:
(ignoring her question)
where’s she—asleep already? Consuelo:
(staring at him before answering)
Maria Teresa is not at home. Ernesto: where’s she? Consuelo:
Oh, Ernesto, why did you come? Ernesto: I came – I had to – Consuelo: you didn’t have to! Ernesto:
please, Consuelo – Consuelo:
(going near him)
you came – you came now – when she – Ernesto:
(staring at her)
she? Consuelo: you know whom I mean. Ernesto:
(without looking at her)
yes, she died two weeks ago. Consuelo: I heard about it. Ernesto: when? Consuelo: does it matter now? Ernesto: from whom? Consuelo: I have forgotten. Ernesto: and Maria Teresa--?
no, Maria Teresa doesn’t know! Ernesto: why not? She might as well. Consuelo:
no, no, Ernesto! She must never know!
(Ernesto stands up quietly.)
Ernesto: what difference does it make?
Maria Teresa will...