Happiness is not like they say, that’s for sure, that it only lasts a moment and you don’t know you have it till it’s gone. The truth is that it lasts as long as love lasts, because if you’ve got love, even dying’s okay.
Graciela Jaraiz de la Vera talks to her husband, Floro, as he sits in an armchair reading the newspaper. It’s the eve of their silver wedding anniversary and they’re holding a lavish party to celebrate. The hundreds of guests are soon to arrive and the band is getting ready to play. But as they prepare, Graciela revisits their 25 years of marriage and makes a painful realisation - that it has given her everything, except love.
On the eve of their silver wedding anniversary celebrations, Graciela Jaraiz de la Vera delivers a diatribe against Flavio, her husband of 25 years, as he sits, unresponsively reading a newspaper in an armchair. Her bags are packed and she is finally leaving him, their marital relations having disintegrated beyond repair. This is her parting speech and her angry bitter lament.
Intermittently interrupted by the servants who are preparing for the hundreds of guests coming to celebrate the anniversary, Graciela resurrects for the audience the history of their marriage. She recounts her premature pregnancy, her audacious youth, the infidelities (her own as well as her husband’s), Flavio’s contradictory jealousy (which she says is typical of an unfaithful husband), as well as his cowardice and the lack of love he has shown her in all their years of being together. She re-enacts herself at different stages in her life and their relationships, evoking for us past selves and points in history and enhancing them with subtle changes in the scenery and costumes which recall the fashions of eras gone by. She portrays the gradual corrosion of a marriage which began without love, her mother advising against her choice of man. She describes their modest beginnings and their gradual accumulation of wealth, but tells us that this prosperity came to mean nothing because there was always one vital ingredient missing in their lives: a husband’s love for his wife . Flavio remains unmoved by Graciela’s accusations, taking silent refuge behind the newspaper which hides his face. At the end of the play, she declares she is no longer willing to suffer her husband’s lack of love. She leaves in search of what she has never had, but not before she sets Flavio’s newspaper alight and she and the audience watch him go up in flames.
Diatriba de amor contra un hombre sentado was first performed in Buenos Aires, where Cien años de soledad was originally published. Reviews focused on whether, although beautifully written by the master of fiction, the piece worked dramatically as theatre.
García Márquez, Gabriel. 1994. Diatriba de amor contra un hombre sentado. Santafé de Bogotá, Arango Editores
Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 4 March 2011.