Out of the Wings

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Sangre lunar (2001), José Sanchis Sinisterra

English title: Blood Moon
Date written: 2001
First production date: March 2006
Keywords: family > brothers/sisters, family, family > parents and children, love > lust, identity, violence, violence > crime, society

A young woman in a coma is discovered to be pregnant. A sleeping beauty, new life inside her woken by a twisted prince. An already-stricken family must come to terms with this news and learn how to incorporate it into their own fragmented lives.


After a terrible car accident, Lucía was left in a coma. Ten years have passed since the accident, and Lucía remains comatose. Now, something else terrible has happened to her: she has been raped and is five months pregnant. A cluster of journalists demands answers from her carers, Dr Gustavo Soto and Dr Ines Caruana. These medical experts have their own concerns. When he is not trying to get Dr Caruana into bed, pompous Dr Soto is working out how to manage budget cuts. For her part, Dr Caruana wonders what impact the crime will have on her promising career. At least one suspect has been pinpointed, a nurse called Manuel, who has a history of sexual assaults.

Through interweaving scenes, the play explores the impact of Lucía’s coma, rape and pregnancy on those involved. Time jumps backwards and forwards, as scenes set before the crime show how life went on for Lucía’s family after her accident. Her fiancé Jaime, who was also injured in the accident and who is now wheelchair-bound, married someone else and rarely visits anymore. He maintains a strange connection with Lucía’s younger sister, Sabina, however. Unable to compete with her pretty comatose sister for her parents’ interest, Sabina moved to Vienna to study music. Here, she writes Jaime letters about her life, although she does not know if he reads them. Lucía’s mother Estela and her father Hector cope with Lucía’s accident in their own individual ways. Hector works as a pilot and distracts himself with union matters. Estela practises meditation and has a lover in Quebec.

When news of Lucía’s pregnancy breaks, the family struggle to cope. Hector is preoccupied with the crime, horrified that someone could commit such a vile act on his precious daughter. Sabina visits from Vienna, finding herself just as invisible as ever in the family home. Only Estela finds some refuge in the fact that Lucía is pregnant. While Sabina and Hector do not want the baby to be born, Estela sees it as a new life – a gift from her sleeping daughter.

The man who committed the rape remains in unknown, although Manuel, the nurse, is the prime suspect. Standing over Lucía’s bed, he tells her disturbing and lascivious versions of fairy tales. Manuel loves cherries, and Estela is at one point shocked to find cherry stones all around her daughter’s bed. Yet Manuel’s mentally-retarded brother is also a fan of cherries, and often accompanies Manuel on his ward rounds. Might the brother be the culprit? We never truly know who impregnated Lucía, but Manuel’s sexual deviance is evident. Near the end of the play, despite privately blaming his brother, he insists that the comatose body on the bed was provocatively asking to be touched.

Gradually, some of characters make a kind of peace with what has happened. Estela decides that the pregnancy will go ahead. Hector apologies to Sabina for the years she spent in her sister’s shadow. For her part, Sabina gives up on her singing dream and promises to help care for the baby. Despite previously advising against the pregnancy for fear of endangering Lucía’s life, Dr Caruana now looks forward to presenting the unusual case at medical conferences. She has struck a deal with Dr Soto for the privilege. We are not sure what exactly she is offering him in return.

A baby cries as it is taken from Lucía’s inert body. Another voice is heard as well. It is that of a young woman. Almost incomprehensibly, she talks about what she sees and what has happened to her while lying in the hospital bed. She finishes with a distressed and confused reflection on emptiness, having been divested of the new life growing inside her.

Critical response

The premiere of the play by the Centro Dramático Nacional in 2006 was well received. Eduardo Pérez Rasilla, for example, was particularly struck by the number of characters whom we never learn much about and/or who never actually appear on stage – such as the journalists, Estela’s lover Philippe, and Manuel’s brother. He notes how this ‘series of beings in the shadows’ is used dramatically to reinforce notions of invisibility, fragmentation and the impossibility of knowing the full truth about things (Pérez Rasilla 2010). Other reviewers of this production, such as Javier Villán in El Mundo, were impressed by the quality of the acting and the innovative theatrical design (2006).

Further information

The play was first published in 2001. In 2002, the film Hable con ella (Talk to Her) by Pedro Almodóvar was released. This film has a similar plot to Sinisterra’s play. Both Almodóvar and Sinisterra were inspired by the case of ‘Kathy’, a comatose woman who in 1995 was raped at New York’s Westfall Health Care Center and became pregnant. The child was born and, after DNA tests, the father turned out to be one of the nurses.

  • Sanchis Sinisterra, José. 2008. ‘Sangre lunar’, CELCIT: Dramática latinoamericana, 284, http://www.celcit.org.ar/publicaciones/dla.php?cat=numero [accessed October 2011] (Online Publication)

  • Sanchis Sinisterra, José. 2010. Próspero sueña Julieta (o vice versa); Sangre lunar. Madrid, Fundamentos

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 29 October 2011.

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