Out of the Wings

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Thebas Motel (1993), Luis Miguel González Cruz

English title: Thebas Motel
Date written: 1993
First publication date: 1995
First production date: February 1997
Keywords: morality > crime, morality > punishment, morality > justice-revenge, identity, family, family > parents and children, family > incest, love

In a dirty motel room, a young man and an older woman hide from the police. In the course of the night, they fall in love. But in this modern-day Thebes, the spectre of Oedipus is never far away.


After a spectacularly daring bank robbery, Selene and Marino are hiding out at Thebas Motel. It is December 28, the local April Fools’ day, and our criminal masterminds are pleased with the prank they have pulled off. Now, they just have to wait until the coast is clear and the police search dies down. Then, they will take their money, share it out with their two other accomplices, and run.

Selene has a chequered past. Many years ago, she and Pastor (her husband) made the mistake of stealing drugs from Columbian drug lords. In revenge, their son was kidnapped and killed. The Columbians allowed Selene and Pastor to live, forcing them to work for them as punishment. Within the corrupt world of drug-running, the couple met two young men who became like sons to them. These two men worshipped Pastor in particular. In fact, when Pastor was brutally murdered, they both vowed to take revenge on his killer. But Pastor’s murderer still remains at large. Since his death, Selene and the two young men who loved her husband so much have worked together as a criminal gang, along with young Marino. It was Marino who masterminded the audacious bank raid, and now he decides that it is time to claim his rewards: he wants Selene, and he wants all the money.

The mood in the motel room is buoyant as Selene and Marino laugh at the audacity of their heist. In the midst of the celebrations, Marino confesses to Selene that he loves her. Initially, Selene rejects his advances. He is too young for her, she reasons, and their two young accomplices would not be pleased to see her with anyone but their beloved Pastor. Eventually, however, Selene admits her own feelings for the young man. Marino promises her the world. He promises her that the bank robbery will be the last they ever do. He promises to take her away from her criminal life. The first step to freedom, Marino argues, is for Selene to cut ties with the other two members of the gang. They will keep all the stolen money for themselves and disappear so that the other two will never find them. Selene is shocked at Marino’s idea. Their accomplices loved her husband, and to steal money from them would be a betrayal. But Marino will not be persuaded to change his mind.

The young men in question are hiding out at a different location in the city, waiting for a sign that Selene and Marino are safe. An envelope has been left for them at the railway station, which will let them know that Selene and Marino are at Thebas Hotel. Now, Marino plans a second signal to leave in the room for the other two men to find when he and Selene make their escape. He puts a medallion in an envelope, only to be surprised at Selene’s response when she sees it. Shocked, Selene reveals that the medallion belonged to her husband, but that it was not on his burned body when it was found. It does not take her long to realise the truth: that Marino murdered her husband and took the medallion from him. Marino admits his crime, claiming that he was forced to do so by the Columbians. Selene is more fearful than angry. She has found new happiness with Marino, and now worries that their two accomplices will find out that he murdered Pastor. This is a very real possibility, unfortunately, as Marino reveals that an exact copy of the medallion was left in the envelope at the station. When their accomplices find it, they will assume the medallion is the very same one that belonged to Pastor, and that Marino is the man who murdered him. Selene is surprised to learn that there are two copies of the medallion still in existence. Two copies were indeed made, but one belonged to Pastor … the other, to their son, who was supposedly killed, all those years ago.

The pieces fall into place. Selene and Marino realise they are mother and son. The Columbians threw Selene’s child into the sea, but he was rescued by a fisherman. Just as Oedipus unwittingly murdered his father and married his mother, so too Marino has killed his father and slept with his own mother. But unlike Oedipus, Marino is barely shaken by the realisation. Selene, in contrast, is devastated. As the police close in on the motel – no doubt alerted by her vengeful accomplices – Selene urges her son to leave. She has lost the will to live, and as the police bombard the room with bullets, Selene shoots herself dead. With nowhere else to go, and unwilling to kill himself, Marino surrenders to the police.


The Oedipus story

Marino and Selene are a modern-day Oedipus and Jocasta. In the Greek myth, Oedipus unwittingly kills his father Laius and goes on to marry his mother Jocasta and become the King of Thebes. When they realise what they have done, Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus tears his eyes out in grief.

28 December

The play is set on 28 December in an unknown city. In Spain and Latin American countries, this day marks the Feast of Holy Innocents, during which people play pranks on one another, much like April Fools’ Day.

Critical response

Thebas Motel is one of González’s most successful early plays, winning a number of awards, including the Rojas Zorrilla de Toledo Prize in 1995. Many critics note the debt Thebas Motel owes to classic American film noir.

  • González Cruz, Luis Miguel. 1995. Thebas Motel. Toledo, Ayuntamiento de Toledo

  • González Cruz, Luis Miguel. 1997. Thebas Motel. Alicante, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, [accessed May 2011] (Online Publication)

  • González Cruz, Luis Miguel. 2001. Agonía. Thebas Motel. Madrid, Teatro del Astillero

  • González Cruz, Luis Miguel. 2003. Thebas Motel, CELCIT: Dramática latinoamericana, 109. Available for free download at http://www.celcit.org.ar/publicaciones/dla.php [accessed April 2011] (Online Publication)

  • González Cruz, Luis Miguel. 2008. Thebas Motel. De putas. Murcia, ESAD

  • González Cruz, Luis Miguel. n.d. Thebas Motel. Available on the Teatro del Astillero website at http://www.teatrodelastillero.es/pdf/thebas_motel.pdf [accessed April 2011] (Online Publication)

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 8 May 2011.

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