y King Kong Palace
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Chile
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
CAST: 3 men, 4 women
Tarzan, Mandrake the Magician, Shakespeare, and recent political events are the sources which de la Parra draws from to create a startling mixture of cultural elements which questions our values and beliefs in an increasingly difficult world situation replete with dangerous politics and intrigue.
Tarzan, now a decrepit deposed leader in exile from an African country, is a guest at the King Kong Palace Hotel. Accompanying him is his wife Jane, who has been transformed from the idyllic woman of the comics and the cinema into a scheming, adulterous, power-hungry harpy. Seeking a new job due to his failed career as a magician, Mandrake and his now imaginary friend Lothar skulk the halls while pleading with the hotel's Administrator for any type of work. Ada, Ana and Eva are maids at the hotel who at times become soothsayers attempting to prevent the impending tragedy. This seemingly Bizarro World, as in the Superman comic books, comes to life as the drama unfolds in a gloomy gothic horror setting.
Tarzan and Jane have fled their African country due to the fact that those whom they have oppressed for many years have arisen and overthrown their former king and queen. We learn that Tarzan has been a pawn in Jane's plan for riches and power beyond comprehension. In a very obvious reference to one particular past event in recent world history involving a former leader's wife, Jane laments that she hadn't been able to escape with her two hundred pairs of shoes, ``Nor my horses, nor my cars, nor my furs.''
Tarzan is haunted by the ghost of their son, Boy, who had been killed during a demonstration in front of the royal palace in the country from which they had fled. Jane had been the one who had urged Tarzan to order the shooting. With this apparition, and at many other points in the work, situations and dialogue echo Shakespeare's Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The once-powerful Tarzan regrets what he has done as a human and longs for the days when he ran among the gorillas.
Taking advantage of Tarzan's fate as an impotent leader, in both senses of the word, Mandrake seduces a willing Jane and together they plot the demise of Tarzan with echoes of Shakespeare permeating the dialogue. What is apparent in this ambitious work by de la Parra is the theme of loss of innocence. Our infallible heroes are stripped of their mythical qualities and unveiled as humans with all the accompanying weaknesses. De la Parra has captured the essence of our world in the late twentieth century; dictatorial governments fall, heroes are exposed as liars, many people claim their newfound liberty with joy while others yearn for past days of glory under iron-handed rule. In the last climactic scene as the hotel is burning, the Administrator berates the maids and declares:
...Open the hotel to the people. Isn't that what you yourselves wanted? Now there aren't any heroes, nor gods, nor monsters, nor idols. Let the common and wretched occupy the building. Lower the prices. Now there aren't sheiks, nor emperors, nor multi-millionaires,nor thieves who pay in diamonds, nor psychotic spendthrifts...Accept dirty money, contest tickets, credit cards, we'll do ads on TV...Hand yourself over to the masses...You will weep for a tyrant! You will scream for a war! You will dream of slavery and domination! Never again will there be bronze statues, nor great warriors, nor voices wrapped in flames which burn the hearts of the masses...Not even death will be tragi c...
Marco Antonio de la Parra
Works in Translation