Out of the Wings

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Historias íntimas del paraíso (c.1978), Jaime Salom Vidal

English title: Intimate Stories of Paradise
Date written: c. 1978
First production date: 6 October 1978
Keywords: family, family > marriage, family > patriarchy, women, women > marginalisation of, identity > gender, love > desire, love > relationships, ideology > religion and faith, society
Genre and type: farce, comedy

Humans can be frustrating creatures. Even when surrounded by all the beautiful things Paradise has to offer, they are never satisfied. Intimate Stories of Paradise takes us back to the beginning of time, to the beginning of the battle of the sexes that continues to rage today.


After a huge amount of work, Paradise is complete. God goes on a well-earned holiday, leaving Angel in charge. This is a promotion for Angel, and he intends to do the best job he can. The trees, birds and animals are all easy to care for, unlike the human who has just been created. Adam is only a few minutes old, yet already he is irritating Angel by asking constant questions. Adam knows very little about his new life as a human, yet he does notice that, while there are two of every other creature in Paradise, there only seems to be one of him. Thankfully, Angel remembers something about another human having been created. He and Adam set out to find it, and they eventually come across Lily.

Unlike her male counterpart, Lily is not bemused by her own existence. Instead, she is rather dissatisfied with her creator’s handiwork and has a number of complaints. For instance, nobody bothered to consult her about Adam. She might have preferred a more handsome husband, or a taller one. Indeed, she might not have wished to be married at all. But God is still on holiday and cannot deal with her complaints, and so Lily makes the best of things. She devours the information about Paradise contained in Angel’s instruction manual, happily ignoring anything she does not agree with. To Angel’s horror, for example, she nonchalantly eats apples from a forbidden tree. Lily has no time for silly rules, and half suspects several things in Paradise are in fact mistakes – not least the amusing dangly bits between Adam’s legs.

Lily’s free-spirited nature exasperates Angel. His chances of career advancement depend on a successful stewardship of Paradise. Most of the animals are behaving appropriately and being fruitful and multiplying. Unfortunately, however, Lily has no intention of joining in the fun. Since they first met, Adam and Lily have had a tempestuous relationship. Adam may not know as much as Lily about life, but he insists that he is superior to her. This has caused much friction, and Lily refuses to have a child with someone who believes he owns her. And so, after yet another argument over equality, Lily leaves to explore the wider world around her.

Lily’s departure leaves a woman-shaped hole in Adam’s life. He needs a new wife, and manages to convince Angel to make him one. Unwilling to repeat the disaster of his tumultuous first marriage, Adam makes sure that Angel creates a new bride who is compliant and adoring. And so, Eve comes into the world. Adam and Eve marry, and soon there is a baby on the way. Eve is everything Adam could have hoped for. She idolises him, unlike Lily, and accepts everything he says as the gospel truth. Angel dares to hope that things in Paradise are finally running smoothly. Yet, while Adam should be blissfully happy with his ‘perfect’ wife, it is clear that he misses his former sparring partner. Indeed, when Lily returns unexpectedly, it does not take long for her and Adam to get reacquainted. Adam confesses he is bored of his docile wife who has nothing to say for herself. Lily is both angered and amused at Adam’s selfish inability to be satisfied with the women in his life.

Eve may be naïve, but she soon suspects that Adam is seeing another woman. She eventually meets Lily, surprised to discover that she is Adam’s first wife. Both women gradually become friends, bonding over the general unfairness of life as a woman in Paradise. While Lily has freedom, she can never now have a family with Adam. Conversely, Eve has the joy of children to look forward to, but will never be free. Adam, however, seems to get the best of both these worlds, much to the women’s frustration. But all is not completely rosy for Adam. Wanting to explore the world around her, Lily leaves Paradise forever. Adam decides he wants to go after her. Angel insists no one can leave the garden unless they are expelled by eating forbidden fruit. And so, Adam eats an apple, as does Eve, who is insistent on following her husband out of the garden to make sure he behaves. Angel has had enough of these exasperating humans who seem unable to live with or without one another. He lets them go, but not before Adam helps him write up a report for his superiors in Heaven. They decide not to mention Lily, but rather to claim that Eve was tempted to eat a forbidden apple by a serpent. They then assert that Eve gave Adam an apple to eat, which led to their expulsion from Paradise. With this version of events established – and with Eve firmly getting the blame – Angel bids the humans goodbye and waits for his next posting.


Adam and Eve… and Lilith

The play is a comic dramatisation of the creation of humankind. It is preceded by four passages of writing. The first two are taken from the Book of Genesis (1:27; 2:21-2). The first verse suggests that God created woman alongside man. The second verse appears to contradict the first verse, telling the story of Eve being created from Adam’s rib. The third quotation comes from The Creation of Women by the psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, in which he discusses the idea that Adam had two wives – Lilith and then, later, Eve. The last passage is taken from the twelfth-century Numeri (Numbers) Rabbah and refers to Lilith’s refusal to be seen as subordinate to Adam and her eventual departure from Paradise. In some Jewish traditions, Lilith is believed to have been Adam’s first wife. Unwilling to submit to her husband, she left Paradise. Angels tried to convince her to return, but she refused. In some legends, Lilith represents female independence. She is alternatively perceived as a nightmarish being, threatening male virility and newborn children.

Critical response

The play was first performed in 1978. At the time it was not well received, perhaps because the public was not ready to accept the subject matter, as Phyllis Zatlin Boring suggests:

The play failed, perhaps because its satire of sex role stereotyping was unacceptable to a traditional audience, perhaps because its opening in the fall of 1978 coincided with the low point in the theatre’s recent economic crisis. (1980: 469)

  • Zatlin Boring, Phyllis. 1980. ‘Theatre in Madrid: The Difficult Transition to Democracy’, Theatre Journal, 32.4, 459-74

  • Salom, Jaime. 1993. Casi una diosa. Historias íntimas del paraíso. Madrid, Fundamentos

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 1 June 2012.

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