Hagridden

In Hagridden, another Pendragon-related short play, two members of the DeFlores traveling carnival show in the 1920s–Broglio, a strongman in his forties, and Carmelita, his wife, in her thirties–are talking at night.  In the darkness we have heard a scratchy recording of Chaliapin singing Mephistopheles from Gounod’s Faust, and as the lights come up we see Broglio, wearing only his trousers, drinking at a table while Carmelita, in her slip, sits on the bed reading a novel by the light of an old lantern.  Broglio says he dreams of an enormous moth fluttering behind him and complains of Carmelita reading penny dreadful novels about ridiculous people who do monstrous things to one another.  He complains that she is always picking at him, but she says he should read more and then reads aloud a passage from the novel.  She thinks the passage is beautiful and says she escapes into fantasy because her life in the carnival is a mind-numbing pandemonium.  Speaking his thoughts aloud, Broglio says that in the worst of her books a shirtless man with bulging muscles and wild eyes strangles a woman wearing only a slip.  He speaks again of the moth leaving its horrible, choking powder all over him.  Carmelita describes the book in which the crazed husband strangles his wife and puts her body in a trunk which he dumps in a pond.  When he returns to his bedroom the woman is there reading a book to him about a man who strangles his wife and puts her in a trunk.  She says the story has a kind of circularity, an ambiguitybut Broglio says that that’s not rightthat stories should have endings with certain meanings.  Carmelita says the interesting thing is whether the woman is really dead or not.  Perhaps she escaped from the trunk or perhaps she comes back as a ghost, a figment of his tortured imagination come back to haunt him because he is torn by guilt and because he still desires her.  Or, she says, perhaps it’s a game in which the wife picks at, teases, the husband to pull him back into the world.  She speaks of a strong man being afraid of a moth and teases Broglio about a former lover.  Broglio tells her to stop and begins waving his arms around as if tormented by moths.  Carmelita says that he strangled his wife Carmelita not for sleeping with Ulysses DeFlores but for never letting him forget that she allowed Jack Basileus to deflower her in a hammock when she was a girl.  She puts the book down as Broglio moves toward her and puts his hands around her neck.  Strangling her, he pulls her up and kisses her lips as the light fades and goes out.

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