Two Marias by Bryony Lavery is a gorgeous fable, a tale of love and loss and maternal love. A perfect play to mark my play reading centenary on this blog!
MARGUERITA: This house here is full of pain.
Feel it in my heart.
Oh … the ache.
It answers mine.
Lay your hands upon the forehead of this house.
Flap your wings and cool the heat here.
Maria storms angry from her home because her mother refuses to accept that she has fallen in love with another girl. Sitting outside the house is an old woman, Marguerita, who proceeds to tell mother and daughter her own story: the story of the two Marias. Marguerita had a daughter called Maria who went for a drive and was in a car crash. The other driver was also a young girl called Maria. One girl died, the other was terribly injured. In the ambulance their handbags were mixed up and the parents were told the wrong fates of their respective Marias.
As the story is told, Maria and her mother Julia become two of the characters and another young woman climbs from a pile of torn newspapers: she is Maria del Morte: the Maria who died. From her grave she sees her family embrace and care for Maria del Amor. The doctors explain her physical changes to her parents as being due to the accident and the medication. Marguerita is so desperate to keep her daughter alive, she’s prepared to believe them.
JULIA: For seventeen years you held this girl … you fed her at your breast … you looked with wonder on her every day … knowing she was yours … when she fell down … you kissed her face and rubbed her knee and saw that she was better … when she cried … you hurt … when she screamed … you felt the pain in your heart … when she fell into danger … you were gripped at the throat with fear … How could you not know that she was not your child???
Eventually Marguerita admits the truth.
MARGUERITA: My daughter was dead … I tried to build a ladder so I could climb to hell and get her … How could I not know this Maria was not mine? I knew! I knew the first day it wasn’t my daughter. How could I not? (Pause) But … I couldn’t bring myself to let her go.
Publisher: Methuen Drama (published in Bryony Lavery Plays: 1 – not the Faber and Faber version: There are two volumes from two different publishers containing different plays but both with the same title.)