Theatre in Wales

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Paulina confronts her deepest fears.

Death and the Maiden

Fio Theatre , The Other Room , November-02-17
Death and the Maiden by Fio Theatre Chilean Ariel Dorfman’s play of great tension was first presented at London’s Royal Court Theatre in July 1991. It could have been written any time in history where a totalitarian regime had been overturned by democracy. It has also played America, India and Iran. The London production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, 1992.

Chile itself suffered for 16 years under the cruel dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, eventually to be overthrown by the processes of democracy.

In Death and the Maiden we quickly learn that a democrat take-over has recently succeeded and Paulina’s husband, Gerardo has been a given a high position in the new government. All had gone well with his visit to the president but his car journey home had gone somewhat awry. A stranger, a doctor, Roberto Miranda has come to the aide of his predicament. To show his gratitude Gerardo insist he stays the night at his home. Gerardo’s wife, Paulina joins them for a meal and the tension begins.

Paulina suffered extremely badly under the old regime; in her head their visitor sets off these terrible memories. The narrative poses to the intimate audience, sat on either side of the stage a question of tension and uncertainty. Is Paulina telling the truth or has the recollection of her experiences disturbed her mind?

The lighting, music and direction leave us in no doubt as the play starts of the tensions that lie ahead for both the characters on stage and equally for us in the audience. Lisa Zahra gives us an excellently realised character. At times she strongly draws our sympathy, others times our exasperation. Vinta Morgan offers us a good supportive husband and quickly sinks into his desperate dilemma. Pradeep Jey also succeeds in changing quickly from helpful friend into a suppressed ‘prisoner’.

To give details of the progress of the narrative would be to give too much away. Dorfman, now an American citizen gives us an exciting, tense and compelling narrative, all resonating to Schubert’s expressive and emotional quartet. I almost wish I could compel you all to be there.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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