God in the Haze

Some extracts from my play Dios en la niebla (God in the Haze) translated into English:

Prologue in Heaven

DEVIL. It’s been a long time since I last saw the Old Man. He used to meet up with me more often. He would call all his children together so that we could tell Him how the world was going, but He seems to have lost interest. Or He doesn’t feel like speaking to us any longer.

(The Angel comes in and approaches the Devil. Both are dressed in a traditional way with their wings, trident, etc., but only in the prologue. When they are on earth, they wear normal clothes, in white and black respectively.)

ANGEL. Where have you come from?

DEVIL. I’ve been going to and fro on earth and walking up and down it. I hoped to present myself before Him, as in former times, but our company mustn’t be of His liking anymore. Do you know what’s the matter with Him?

ANGEL. Since that German said that God was dead, He’s not the same. He’s somewhat gloomy.

DEVIL. I see.

ANGEL. Well, I have to leave you. I have business to attend to on earth.

DEVIL. Human business?

ANGEL. What else? Do you know Augusto?

DEVIL. The poet?

ANGEL. God’s servant.

DEVIL. God’s servant, you say? But he’s an atheist!

ANGEL. The times have changed. Many people don’t believe in God anymore, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t serve Him in their way, even without knowing it.

DEVIL. I understand. Everything is allowed now to keep the parish full.

ANGEL. Don’t be sarcastic. You know as well as I do that faith is not the most important thing.

DEVIL. Sure, now it’s not the most important thing, but the stakes were fed with hundreds of people who didn’t profess the right faith.

ANGEL. God has nothing to do with that. But let’s end this discussion, which is not going to take us anywhere, and I’m in a hurry.

DEVIL. Tell me, at least, before you go, what is the matter with that Augusto.

ANGEL. He wants to commit suicide because his wife died.

DEVIL. That really is the limit! An atheist and suicidal!

ANGEL (making as if to go, somewhat angry). I’m leaving. 

DEVIL. No, wait. I’m sorry. I won’t make any more comments, but tell me the story in more detail.

ANGEL. Tales have always led you astray.

DEVIL (with a mixture of bitterness and irony). Yes, above all, those that deal with rebels.

ANGEL. Come along, accompany me to the earth if you want to, and you’ll be able to look for yourself at poor Augusto’s tribulations.

DEVIL (sarcastic). Yes, poor Augusto. (The Angel looks at him as if he were going to reprimand him and the Devil reacts quickly to avoid the Angel’s wrath.) Come, come. We don’t have all eternity. Augusto is waiting. (He takes the Angel’s arm and they exit.)

Act I

Scene I

Augusto is sitting in a cafe. There is almost nobody. On the walls black and white pictures are hung, many of them dedicated to the cinema. The place is cosy and nice.

Augusto leafs through some books and writes in a notebook. However, he seems to be having problems concentrating on what he is doing. The Angel and the Devil watch the scene the whole time, but Augusto cannot see them.

DEVIL (to the Angel). What is he doing?

ANGEL. He is trying to prepare his classes for the university, but he can´t manage to concentrate.

DEVIL (looking over Augusto’s shoulder and reading his text). “The vindication of the figure of the devil during the era of Romanticism…” (He smiles.) What an interesting topic!

ANGEL. Yes, he’s a specialist in European Romantic poetry. He’s written several books about the period.

DEVIL (reacting as if he were surprised). And they pay him for that? This world is really getting worse and worse.

(Augusto stops writing and takes a sip from his cup, deep in thought. Afterwards, he looks for a new page in the notebook and writes again, this time more resolutely.)

DEVIL.  What is he writing now?

ANGEL. What really worries him at this moment.

AUGUSTO (Reading aloud what he has written with a grandiloquent tone). So many years dedicated to reading and thinking, convinced of having reached a certain wisdom. Professor and poet, educator of the youth, passionate lover of the Muses. My whole life I have consecrated to knowledge, to the university, believing that among dusty books and erudite conferences was to be found that happiness reserved to the few pupils chosen by the evasive Sophia.

DEVIL. What an unaffected style!

AUGUSTO. And now, 50 years old, I have to recognize my failure, the treason I have committed against the life that was given to me. Poor me! I had to lose my wife, whom I didn’t pay attention to in life as I should have, to realize that my whole existence has been empty, lacking in sense, to realize that she was the only thing that really mattered.
           I am desperate and death is the only thing that can ease the pain in my heart.

DEVIL. Well, he does not look very happy indeed.

ANGEL. Shut up. Have some compassion for this man’s suffering.

DEVIL. Compassion is the weak people’s remedy. If Augusto were not a coward… (Augusto interrupts him by taking up his reading.)

AUGUSTO. I wish God would take pity on me and send me a sweet and permanent dream! But, what am I saying? Can there be a God by any chance? At least a God who cares about us, who hears our afflictions? It is gullible to think so. And, yet, in a moment like this I would like to believe that there is someone there who sees me, who cares a little about me, someone humanenough to understand the sorrow that tears me apart and destroys my hope.

ANGEL. God listens to you, Augusto. Have faith.

DEVIL. Faith is not his thing, I fancy.

(Augusto buries his face in his hands and stays this way, while the Angel and the Devil turn away a little and keep on talking.)

DEVIL. Was it God who decided that his wife should die? Did he want to test Augusto?

ANGEL. If I told you, it was so, you would accuse God of cruelty. If I told you, that was not the case, you would state that He’s not as powerful as He claims to be, since then not everything depends on His decisions.

DEVIL. You reason like a scholastic. What an image do you have of me that you think I would answer that way? (He pretends to feel offended.) I only wish to understand. Nothing more.

ANGEL. God didn’t intervene at all in the death of Augusto’s wife. He could have, of course, but He decided centuries ago to intrude as little as possible in human matters.

DEVIL (ironic). Why? Do they bore Him?

ANGEL. I don’t know exactly. The Lord doesn’t share everything with His servants.

DEVIL. I see. And least of all now since He doesn’t seem to feel like seeing anyone. Have you seen Him often lately?

ANGEL. Seldom, to tell you the truth. He keeps more and more to himself.

DEVIL. Don’t you find it strange?

ANGEL. I’m not to question His decisions nor His behaviour.

DEVIL. Sure, the only thing that counts is obedience, isn’t it?

ANGEL. You should have already learnt it, yes. That was what led astray your sister, the serpent, in Paradise.

DEVIL. Oh, please! Those are old wives’ tales! You know perfectly well that that wasn’t the way things happened. The Genesis story is but a myth of origin with misogynist touches.

ANGEL (smiling amused). Now you have become a biblical exegete? 

DEVIL (somewhat cross because of the mocking tone of the Angel, but recovering his composure). Were we ever anything else than interpreters of a reality we don’t fully understand?

ANGEL. Well, forget about theological questions. I have to deal with Augusto. I must try and save him.

DEVIL. Save him? That will be only if I let you.

ANGEL. Don’t start...

DEVIL. I’ll make you a wager. (They exit.)

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