Lear, the king and his double
by Flavia Radrigán
Translator: Bruce Gibbons Fell
The following text is an excerpt from the play.
This play is fully protected under Chilean copyright laws.
LEAR: I arrived in the city on a Tuesday night,
a bitter, metallic city, devoid of places to rest and live in. Where everything had transformed into enormous steel beams that played interlocking over the smoke, the rats, and the mud.
I wandered the metropolis like an anxious gargoyle.
I wanted to seize it.
Ay my age, tastes are easily adaptable to the place I find myself in.
And though my sentence is paramount, I had no shortage of sex and wine.
I also took the time to go to the cinema, to hide and rest in theatres that showed three movies for the price of one, where the taciturn audiences did not suspect my presence.
I ruled the grey two-faced city,
because I am the king, I always have been.
A three-fingered prince.
The city brought Cordelia back to me.
It brought her back squalid, bulgy eyed.
The beautiful Cordelia did not mind seeing only three fingers on my left hand.
Like three lurking deaths.
as it had not been foreseen
as it had not been written
as it had not been decided,
as it had not appeared in the stars…
her womanly odor got inside me until it became indispensable, and I decided to find refuge in that kind of love.
She crawled up my skin, and spun me like a spider, kissed me, fed me, and dragged me to her home.
To her exile.
To the exile imposed on her myself.
I let myself go, to exist outside the city walls, in that limit where the center begins to lose itself, and everything fuses into one body, in a miserable and warm mass, which to my regret, demanded that I ravish her.
The other two, Regan and Goneril and their husbands, followed me for some time like hungry hyenas, cornering me. And, despite Cordelia's hips, I cried out for the end of everything.
I cried out, looking at the cordillera, asking myself in a sweet and unintelligible Sanskrit that what no one in this city or land could answer.
Sometimes I would climb the bridge's beams, where no human could reach me; I absorbed the appearing noises to wait for that silence that never gets any answers.
Knowing there were none, I began to laugh and walked east, towards the woman, towards my daughter.
That Tuesday night, returning down Canales towards Avenida Central, I sheltered the desire that that day would be the day, the last day, though there was only one way. Rest.
All I want is rest.
I had imagined it so many times in so many different ways!
I looked up to see the lights coming out towards the black sky. The twinkles got lost in the darkness that competed with my hairs; this time, they were colors that, coming together, moved in sharp angles.
Are they calling someone? I wondered, laughing my head off as I continued East. To my wife, my daughter, my Cordelia, so I too laughed at my own absurd complacency.
That Tuesday night, I craved to get to that house like I had never wanted before, my last castle after so many others.
To lie with that worn-out, proud woman that beat her bosom as she walked and drank hot soup to bring back her banishment.
The one I had sentenced her to.
Just because she was better than me.
That Tuesday night, I entered, accompanied by the noise of the loose planks in the corridor. I came into the apartment without turning on the light, I never did, but Cordelia's absence hurt my desire.
I roamed both rooms as if trying to find her, feeling the need to touch everything, the need to brush Cordelia's women's clothing on my face; I wanted the smell of those intimacies to sweeten her departure, for the texture of those garments to replace the ruggedness of my hands.
I kept sitting at the foot of the bed, thinking that it was the Tuesday we'd encounter each other; I laughed for a long time, but my lips turned from a smile to a murky smirk, because I saw myself as a prince and sought-after.
I saw myself as a prince and sought-after.
Because of Regan.
I saw myself as a prince and sought-after.
Because of Goneril.
I stood up, put Cordelia's women's clothing away, and unraveled the jumble of covers to lie down and rest. A century later, the door was opened, and she got in bed.
"Where were you," I asked.
"With France. The one who accepted banishment and who awoke the respect of my cold disdain", she replied.
God, you're such a woman now.
And we made love under the jumble of covers that would supposedly shelter us till dawn.
"It's Tuesday," I said, entangling my fingers in her hair. Cordelia cried in silence. I began to kiss her without a rush.
"Do you know, Lear?" she said as if reacting. "I do not wish to see you die."
She got up and began to dress in a hurry.
"You have no escape if you stay here. I am not the Lear you knew," I declared.
"You are to me. I do not want to leave you," she begged.
"Do not worry, I won't let you," I declared again.
I got up to hug her, as she asked: "What happened to the time we had? Why did you bequeath your kingdom, why did you ask me to declare my love in front of my sisters?
I replied softly, with all the affection I could hold on to, that deadlines exist to make people believe they can live longer.
I bequeathed because I have type 2 diabetes.
Fungus on right foot's big toe.
Spots on my bald head.
My erections depend on the gods.
I leave the foul-smelling bathroom to get my medication.
That I bequeathed because I am old, and that cursed word spans a sentence.
And the most painful thing is looking back and seeing that I did nothing for those I love.
But I am still king,
And I will continue being one because I do not fear the future because I am the one who decides it.
I was engendered to run companies.
My power is incompatible with democracy.
I am the influence behind the curtain.
My power comes with wealth.
I have a building permit.
I do not pay the rights of occupation.
I do not pay taxes over my jurisdiction.
I enact the general and specific principles.
I have universal legal immunity.
I have a road closed to any citizen.
The ministers come and go, but monarchy is always there.
I have the hard power, command of all weapons, and politics.
I have the soft power, I give the children a cultural orientation.
I only come up with broad ideas.
I appear after catastrophes happen.
I give condolences and promises.
I do not pay for the clothes I wear.
And I always, always, always
Have a poor man at the entrance.
My empire is about ego.
One cannot be kind or sensitive, conquest is brutal.
And the point about being a king avoids unwanted comments.
I said I bequeathed my kingdom to begin a different one.
As king, I learned that you tell your subjects that they have time, that it's still time, only to mock them when they try to unfold their useless genuflexion.
All of it, without mattering that we are an absurd remnant of feudalism.
My heart beats slowly now, it tires. It enlarged as is common in old age.
The word for that is declination.
So my castle was not a castle, it was vulgar concrete I needed to run from.
On its pillars, the only thing that was drawn was the marks of my scratches.
It was that Tuesday night, and the door received a knock demanding my presence. In that precise moment, I knew I had invented the dream of rest.
Cordelia's soft skin, the woman, makes me think of taking her and running, not facing myself.
Had I fallen in love?
But I am a ruthless man, with a gaze made for tenderness, a long grey hair falls placidly on my shoulders, and I have been born for guilt.
My lips kissed her as they ran on the roof, my hand grabbed her neck and began to smash the door to pieces. I lowered my three-fingered claw to Cordelia's plexus, the woman, who cried, holding my gaze. I sunk my three fingers in her breast in a mad stab until I took her heart out.
Once the door was completely wrecked, they came in.
My two daughters, their husbands, and a bunch of nitwits.
But only the woman was there, the blood and a broken heart.
All these powerfully armed good-for-nothings asked themselves if they would ever manage to finish me.
But I, Lear, was already in another city. A bitter, metallic city, where everything had also been transformed into enormous steel beams that played interlocking over the smoke, the rats, and the mud.
It was the only place where I could keep on thinking about the woman.
END OF SCENE
“Lear, the king and his double” was a Corporación Cultural Municipal de Quilicura production.
Written in : 2017
Premiere : May 17, 2019.
Theatre : Teatro Finis Terrae
Direction : Jesús Urqueta
Performers : Francisco Reyes, Daniel Antivilo
Stage and Lighting design : Belén Abarza
Costumes : Daniel Bagnara
Production : Ana Cosmelli
Music : Álvaro Pacheco
Technical Direction : Francisco Herrera.
To contact the author, write to us.
The Interdram Interviews 2020 are funded by the Ministry of Arts and Culture (Fondart Nacional de Difusión convocatoria