Out of the Wings

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Llueven vacas (c.2008), Carlos Be

English title: It's Raining Cows
Date written: c. 2008
First production date: November 2009
Keywords: love > relationships, family > marriage, power > use and abuse, women, society, madness, violence > cruelty, power > inter-personal/game play
Genre and type: absurdist

What happens when you love someone so much you believe everything they tell you? Can they make you believe that you cannot hear? Cannot see? Margaret and her husband are free to make the world as they wish it. They see cows rain from the sky… But something has happened to turn these magical visions dark, and as Margaret begins to lose faith in her husband, he tests her loyalty, pushing fantasy from the sublime to the macabre. [Pitch by Susanna Herbert]


Margaret and Fernando have been married for years. Fernando struggles to tolerate Margaret, not least because she is so terribly forgetful. For example, Margaret barely recalls that she only has one leg. The other leg was lost when she clumsily caught it in one of the many traps that used to surround the couple’s farm. Fernando constantly has to remind his wife of things like this, otherwise Margaret might mistakenly believe that she has still two legs. This may, in fact, be the case. Margaret could indeed be in perfect health. But she and Fernando inhabit a strange reality. It is a reality in which what Fernando claims to be true is true for Margaret. If he says she only has one leg, then she only has one leg. If he says – as he does at the beginning of the play – that it is raining cows, then it is raining cows.

The apparent rain shower of cows prompts Fernando to venture into town, using a visit to the insurers as an excuse. When he returns, Margaret notices he has lipstick on his collar. Of course, when Fernando insists that the stain is merely blood, Margaret is happy to believe him and their lives continue as normal… or as normal as life ever is for this couple. Margaret irritates Fernando with memories about her childhood. He perversely enjoys her anguish when he threatens to rip up old family photographs. Margaret remembers having fun as a child, balancing on the rocks. In an apparently kind gesture, Fernando gives his wife a rock as a gift, only to take great delight when she then falls off it. Margaret deals with these little cruelties in her customary happy manner. We are never sure if she is simply a very indulgent wife, or if she is oblivious to her husband’s perversity. Yet Fernando is noticing that Margaret is not as compliant as she once was. She even has the temerity to ask him when they will next make love, provoking his anger. The final straw comes when he spies Margaret struggling to stand up on her own two feet. Fernando takes immediate steps to counteract this small act of independence. He picks up a shotgun and claims to Margaret that he has shot off her other leg.

Now supposedly without two legs, Margaret wheels herself around on a low platform. Her spirits are not dimmed, however. Fernando has even been kind enough to lower the oven so that she can reach it. But Fernando still has a nagging doubt that Margaret has stopped fully believing in the reality he has created for them both. He turns to Coral, another woman, who comes to stay with the couple. As compliant as ever, Margaret happily gives up her place in bed for the newcomer. She gets on well with her houseguest, even when Coral and Fernando gang up on her and criticise her. Fernando and Coral are busy gathering flowers. Margaret has been talking about how she wants to be surrounded by beautiful flowers on the day she dies. Gradually, she realises that the flowers have been collected for that very purpose – her death. Accordingly, Fernando tells her she is dying. But Margaret is not yet ready. She also wants it to rain cows again on the day she dies. And so, Fernando claims it is raining cows. Margaret agrees that she sees them, and then lies down dead.

Margaret’s ‘death’ upsets Fernando greatly. He knows that his wife only pretended to see cows to please him, and is so touched by her loyalty that he refuses to let Coral bury her. In fact, Margaret lies still warm on the ground, making us wonder if she really is dead. Eventually, in frustration, Coral strangles the body. Coral promises that she will love Fernando as much as Margaret did. She asks if it will ever rain cows again, and Fernando promises her that it will.

Critical response

A televised series of the play has been planned, directed by Fran Arráez. Information on the progress of this version can be found at http://lluevenvacas.blogspot.co.uk/p/trisquel-escena.html [accessed May 2012].

  • Be, Carlos. 2008. Llueven vacas. Tarragona, Arola Editors

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 30 May 2012.

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