In A Wedding to Die For (La boda de tus muertos) by Andalusian playwright Pablo Canosales, the López family – the parents Jesús and Sofía, and their two children Mari Tere and Josete – attend the wedding reception of the oldest of the three children, Pablo.
Time stands still – as they drive towards the reception through the baking countryside, as they arrive, are seated humiliatingly at the back of the room, are treated to the bizarre ‘service’ of their dedicated waiter, Aurelio, it is always 7 o’clock.
The action moves from tragedy to farce to comedy, and back again. And one thing is clear. This family is held together not by love but by resentment and disappointment and loathing. Can they break free? What will happen if they do?
MARI TERE: Think. You’re the one who suggested the game. You must have something to say.
Pause. Abstraction. Silence. Wind. A strong wind engulfs SOFÍA. A mother who flies with the wind. The wind takes possession of her. She takes possession of the wind. A rising apocalypse.
SOFÍA: I like the bride. I mean, she doesn’t look so great but, well, she’s still the bride. And we always say the bride looks beautiful. Even if it’s a lie. Even if she’s stealing your son forever. And I like my Pablo; he’s so handsome. But then he’s handsome whatever he wears, and even more so dressed as the groom. And even though we’re a long way away, I like to see him smiling with joy like only he does. Although I keep losing sight of him, with all these people in the way. I also like the dress the bride’s mother is wearing. If it’s uglier than mine, I laugh. But if it’s prettier, I get really pissed off. I can’t help it.
The wedding ceremony. When people read at the altar. The priest with his goblet of wine. I like the bit when he says: “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” There’s always the possibility that somebody will ruin the moment. The organ. The photographer. People crying. People singing. The food. What is it with food at weddings? It never ends. The decorations. They’re so important. Everybody loves them. And I like asking people, “How are you? How are you? How are you?”
And explaining what it was like, organizing all of this, even though I haven’t organized anything. But I would like to have done it for my son. And I like the music at weddings. Music that allows you to let yourself go, even if it’s only on the inside. And the centrepieces. Real flowers. I don’t like the plastic ones, they look cheap, you can tell they’re plastic. And the tableware, which doesn’t seem so important and people don’t think about it, but it is important because you eat your food from it. It has to be white. And pretty. And simple.
I like simple weddings. And I like elaborate ones. I like weddings. I like all kinds of weddings! Because they’re all happy. Or they should be. And I like prawns. There have to be lots of prawns. Local, not imported. And a free bar. There has to be a free bar. For the young folks, above all, but for the older ones too. I like the guests. They make me feel good. The guests should be happy. More than a hundred but less than five hundred. With people smiling, even if they don’t want to or they can’t. I like that too. Because weddings are for smiling.
Envelopes with money. Envelopes without money. Envelopes with the name of the person who’s given it written on them. And envelopes with no name. Full of intrigue. And disappointment. And disaster. It doesn’t matter. If you can at least cover the costs. Agreeing among friends how much money to give to the happy couple. I like the way, the more money you give, the more love it seems to show.
Stag nights and hen parties. I like people losing control at stag nights and hen parties. The money from the wedding paying for the honeymoon. The smokers’ area. The cigars. I don’t like cigars but the smell of cigar smoke at a wedding makes me happy. Who knows why? Even though I don’t smoke. The condom machines in the bathrooms. The way the floor ends up all slippy and slidy.
Impossible high heels. Uncomfortable dresses. People changing their shoes halfway through. Perfume. Wedding make-up and wedding hair-dos. Flamboyant ties and ridiculous bow-ties. The crazy hairstyles at weddings. Layers and layers of make-up at weddings. People getting all dolled up to go to weddings. People getting drunk at weddings. People eating things at weddings that they’d never eat at home. People who say they go hungry at weddings.
People dancing without a care in the world at weddings. People dancing on their own at weddings. People complaining at weddings. People who do lines of coke at weddings. People who go crazy at weddings. People who fight and swear at weddings. The lovers of the bride and the groom at weddings.
People feeling each other up beneath the table at a wedding. Cheating on somebody at a wedding. The bride’s garter, I know it’s tacky, but I like it. The expensive bouquet that gets thrown in the air so that four tarts can fight over it without a scrap of dignity. The bloody kids running all over the place, knocking the waiters over and ruining everything.
The stupid stains on everyone’s wedding clothes. People who come to the wedding because they can’t get out of it. I like it when the wedding invitation doesn’t feel like an obligation. People who think they’re better than you at weddings. People you don’t know at weddings. Those people? Why the hell are they here, anywhere? The relatives who have to come to the wedding even though you don’t speak to them. I love the gossip at weddings. People with their mouths full who spit on you when they talk at weddings. People who shout at weddings. The sad single people at weddings. The divorcees at weddings. The virgins at weddings. The widows and widowers at weddings. The wife-beaters who pretend they’re nice at weddings. The ones who have filthy sex in the bathrooms at weddings. The karaoke at weddings. If only there was a karaoke with an infinite selection of songs so we could all drown in music.
Ah! There should be a photographer at every table at this wedding. I’d love that. I’d go mad! Mad! If there was a photographer at every single table and he could capture every moment of happiness at this wedding! Are you listening to me? Every single moment of happiness! Just the happy moments! Here! I wish there was a photographer here! Right here. Next to me. (She sighs) But I’d need a different family for that.
MARI TERE: Can we change the game?
JESÚS: Please! Let’s change the game and maybe that way your mother will stop talking shit.