The Praying Mantis (La mantis religiosa
Over 300 professional and university performances!!!!
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Chile
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
CAST: 3 women 2 men
SETTING: The parlor of a large Victorian house in Chile.
Adela, Juan's fiance and youngest sister in the house, has invited him home to meet the family. For Adela the lusty but naive Juan is her passport to freedom from her family's isolation, to the world beyond. Desperate for even a brief happiness to hold onto for the rest of her life, Adela asks Juan to rob his bank so they can escape the town and travel--she envisions one exotic travel poster after the other.
For others, Juan also seems to be the chance for change. Adela's two older sisters, Lina and Llalla, are now subjects of scandal because each has supposedly murdered her suitor in self defense. They are in mourning, but they are not above trying to seduce Juan for themselves. Prim and salacious, Llalla and Lina first suspect Juan is also a detective; later they nervously but seductively tumble out the details of their little murders--crimes their relatives in the courts managed to hush up. When they're not needling each other about what each one's dead suitor called the other sister (``necrophagic'' is one of the more telling epithets), Llalla and Lina fuss and fawn over Juan, ask him to admire their pointless wedding gowns, and whenever Adela leaves the room, separately seek to seduce him.
The third sister is heard only through a massive door. She is discarded except at dinnertime, when a live chicken is flung through the door. From the heights of their virginal purity, the seen sisters revile Teresa, calling her a deformed monster, an insect, a praying mantis, maneater, and (supposedly) the real killer of their lovers. Aparicio, the father, sees Teresa as a ``saint'' and ``angel'' whose holy birth killed his unworthy wife. Juan, caught up in the midst of all these jarring explanations, hears moans and screams from behind Teresa's elaborately carved door. The contradictions naturally disturb and intrigue him; he's drawn to the one sister who hasn't tried to entrap him. His Pandora-like temptation ends the play on the note of horror we've been expecting, but not in the way we have anticipated.
Works in Translation by
Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
The Ragged Rascals Ran (Tres tristes tigres)
Everything Will Go-Went-and is Going to Hell (Todo se irá-se fue-se va al diablo)
Paradise Half-Lost (El paraíso semi-perdido)
Almost Happiness (Parecido a la felicidad)
My Brother, Christian (Mi hermano, Cristián)