Alfredo loves women. By day he works in an office, by night he works his charms on beautiful ladies. But Alfredo soon finds out that womanising is not always as easy as he thinks.
Alfredo is a self-confirmed bachelor. His black book is not so much ‘little’ as it is stuffed with the names of young ladies. This is in contrast to his friend Sebastian, who is happily married. Sebastian is an avid fisherman. Alfredo also fishes… in his own way. He has devised all sorts of ruses to hook attractive women. On the night the play begins, Alfredo welcomes Mariví into his flat. He is confident that the beautiful young woman will fall for his charms, once the lights have been dimmed and she has drunk enough of the sweet liqueur that Alfredo thinks all women like. When Mariví arrives, however, she prefers the lights undimmed and her drinks sour and strong. She spends the first half of the evening on Alfredo’s telephone, cancelling and reorganising dates with other men. It seems that she is just as much a man-eater as Alfredo is a womaniser.
The night goes on, and both Mariví and Alfredo get very drunk. Mariví confesses that she is tired of being in the company of a different man every night. Alfredo drunkenly agrees and the two of them decide to get married. At the start of act 2, however, Alfredo remains very much a single man; Mariví disappeared after just a few days, leaving only photographs in her wake. Her departure has not dented Alfredo’s love of female company, however. He now has a new object of desire, Elena, who is deliberating over whether or not to leave her husband. Elena considers herself a victim of Alfredo’s charms – despite the fact that it was she who not only initiated their affair, but also previously pursued his friend Sebastian. This comes to light when Sebastian unexpectedly arrives at the flat. He has not come for Elena, however. Rather, he wants to collect the photographs of Mariví, whose company he is now enjoying. Alfredo is shocked to learn that his rather oafish – and very married – friend is such a hit with the ladies. Whereas Alfredo has gone to great pains to learn how to hook a woman, Sebastian has reeled them in with ease. In fact, Sebastian is growing tired of having so many admirers, since he is perfectly happy with his own wife. Elena, too, comes to the conclusion that she is content just being with her husband. And so,she bids Alfredo goodbye, leaving him to find someone else to charm and be charmed by.
In act 3 Alfredo’s popularity is on the wane. None of his former girlfriends is interested in him anymore, preferring to hang off Sebastian’s arm. Sebastian’s wife knows all about her husband’s flirtations. In fact, now that she has told all her friends, Sebastian feels under even more pressure to match up to his reluctantly-won reputation as a ladies’ man. Determined not to be outdone, Alfredo rings around for company. But whereas he once had the luxury of picking and choosing whom to spend time with, he now finds that most of his former conquests have either married or moved away. All is not lost, however. A knock at the door brings Lulu, a new neighbour, into his life. Alfredo is immediately enchanted by her. Unlike the other women Alfredo has hosted in his flat, Lulu loves sweet liqueur and prefers the lights dimmed. She is about to be evicted from her flat because her ‘boyfriend’ has abandoned her. Touched by the girl’s plight, Alfredo gives her some money to pay off her debts and invites her to move in with him. Lulu hesitatingly agrees, promising that she will come back the next day with her things.
As usual, Alfredo’s romantic plans fall through. In a short epilogue scene we learn that Lulu never returned. Her ex-boyfriend – or client – fell suddenly ill and she stayed to look after him, not least because he showered her with gifts. Alfredo is far from miserable, however. He also fell gravely ill and was nursed back to health by his maid, Paca. They are now married, and Alfredo could not be happier. After all his womanising, then, love struck Alfredo unexpectedly, with no need for sweet liqueur, romantic music or dimmed lights.
When the play opened in 1953, it was a huge success, and ran for two months.
A film of the play directed by Julián Soler came out in 1958.
The play was actually originally called Piso de soltero (Bachelor Pad). It was rejected by the censors because of its title and because of the central character’s lackadaisical attitude towards marriage and fidelity. In order to help the play get past the censors, Mihura changed the title to A media luz los tres and toned down the frivolous treatment of adultery by adding an epilogue in which Alfredo has finally settled down.
Mihura, Miguel. 2006. ‘A media luz los tres ’. In Historia y antología del teatro español de posguerra: 1951-1955, ed. Víctor García Ruiz, pp. 415-88. Madrid, Fundamentos
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Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 13 October 2011.