Shadow and Solitude: A play in one stupid act

Solo Entre las Sombras (Shadow and Solitude), Claro M. Recto, 1917

  • Philippines, #9
  • Print-on-demand paperback, received as a gift
  • Read November 2017
  • Rating: 2/5
  • Recommended for: False dichotomists

I read somewhere that this guy is one of the most important Filipino authors of all time, but I’m just not getting it (side note: is it possible that my out-of-copyright print-on-demand translation is just terrible? I mean “Shadow and Solitude” is not a very good translation of “Solo entre las sombras”; “Alone among the shadows” would be both more literal and more apt. But it’s not the dialogue that’s so awful, it’s the ideas, and I doubt those are much changed in the translation). Anyway, in lieu of a review, here’s my slightly condensed and paraphrased version of the play.

Saint Louis, 2019


Dramatis personae:

  • ANDRES (This Fucking Guy): A doctor
  • Andres’s WIFE: The perfect woman, i.e., a doormat who is so forgettable I can’t even remember her name
  • Andres’s wife’s UNCLE: conservative blowhard
  • MARINA, Andres’s wife’s sister: a nurse
Saint Louis, 2019


Lights up on UNCLE and ANDRES sitting in the living room.

UNCLE: So, I heard you got into a fight last night.

ANDRES: Ridiculous! Preposterous! I am definitely not sleeping with my wife’s sister, why would you even say such a thing?

WIFE (popping up from behind a fern): Don’t worry Uncle, I heard all about the rumors and I know they’re not true because no one has ever cheated on or lied to anyone else, ever. Plus, with my convenient heart condition literally any sort of surprise or bad news would kill me instantly so I’m sure Andres would never do anything except exactly what I expect him to do.

WIFE wanders off.

UNCLE: Let’s have a philosophical discussion that in no way has any bearing on the current situation.

ANDRES: Sounds fun.

UNCLE: Women are delicate flowers to be cherished and protected and also there’s really no reason they should ever leave the kitchen.

ANDRES: Women might possibly be people and should have access to education.

UNCLE: But the logical consequence of educating women is a total breakdown in the moral fiber of society!

ANDRES: Yes! I’m all for it! I think women should have lots of sex with whoever they want, by which I mean me.


MARINA: Oh hai.


EXPOSITORY FRIEND: Oh hi, Marina! You were away for a suspiciously long time! Like, almost long enough to have a secret baby and leave it with relatives before coming back to work! Anyway, I’m off! See you all later!


UNCLE: I’ve got my eye on you, Andres.


ANDRES: Hey, you’re back! DTF?

MARINA: No! I’ve had some time to think while I was off having our secret love child and I realize that my uncle is right and monogamy is literally the only option and women should never, under any circumstances, be allowed to do anything except prune roses and iron their husbands’ shirts.

ANDRES: I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. Kiss me.

He attempts to kiss her.

WIFE wanders in.

WIFE: Oh! I guess they are boning after all.

WIFE dies. MARINA goes off to join a nunnery or something.

ANDRES: This is awful! Who’s going to sleep with me now?



Saint Louis, 2019