Out of the Wings

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Woman in a taxi crossing New York (2010), Carlos Be

English title: Woman in a taxi crossing New York
Date written: 2010
First publication date: 2010
Keywords: family > marriage, violence > suicide, identity, family > mothers and daughters, love > relationships, power > inter-personal/game play
Genre and type: magic realism

A woman in the back of a taxi, a pistol in her bag. Take a trip through her chaotic thoughts and memories, as she travels the landscapes of her mind while crossing New York.


A woman gets into a taxi in New York. A psychotic breakdown and a violent incident with her ex-husband and his lover have left the woman broken. She has spent time in an asylum and desperately misses her young daughter, whom she now only sees under strict visiting conditions. She feels hopeless, travelling across New York with a pistol in her handbag.

The woman’s name is Edith. She is accompanied on her journey by the taxi driver Vardøger and his pet chihuahua, Frank. Sometimes, it feels like Vardøger, Frank and Edith have made this trip together before. It is a journey across time as much as across space, as Edith remembers her past. Sometimes she also journeys into a possible future in which she has died. At one point Edith says goodbye to her daughter. Is this a memory of when she gave up her child and moved into the asylum? Or, having killed herself, is she now saying farewell to her little girl from beyond the grave? Vardøger insists that she is still alive, although Edith does not seem so sure. Perhaps both realities are true in this strange voyage across New York.

As the play reaches its conclusion, we wonder if Edith ever left the white-walled rooms of the asylum. Has the journey only taken place in her head? It has been a journey of goodbyes – to her daughter, to her ex-husband, to a friend in the asylum, to her past life. As she impassively watches her own shadow moving along the walls of her white room, Edith wonders why saying goodbye cannot be the happiest thing we ever experience.


The play is preceded by two German quotations. The first is by Angelus Silesius and reads ‘The Rose is without why; it blooms because it blooms; it pays no attention to itself, nor asks whether one sees it’. The second is taken from the 1927 novel The Angel of the West Window by Gustav Meyrink and refers to the ethereality of death: ‘What does death mean? What does the past mean? What was thought and done at one time, is still thought and effect today. Everything powerful lives!’. The Angel of the West Window reflects the mysterious and ambiguous atmosphere of Carlos Be’s play. In addition, the name of the taxi driver Vardøger is significant. In Scandinavian folklore, a vardøger is a spirit creature, preceding and guiding individuals into experiences, just as the taxi driver guides Edith into her memories and into her past.

Critical response

A short promotional video of the play is available online at http://carlosbe.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/woman-in-taxi-crossing-new-york.html [accessed May 2012].


Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 25 May 2012.

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