‘Death and the Maiden’ by Ariel Dorfman
Directed by: Richard Parish
Design by: David Hemsley-Brown
Lighting by: Nigel Greenaway
Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: Nancy Lund, David Hemsley-Brown and David Webb
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK - : Death and the Maiden
Ariel Dorfman's explosive, award-winning drama is set in a country only recently returned to democracy after emerging from a totalitarian dictatorship. Gerardo Escobar has been chosen to head the commission that will investigate the crimes of the old regime. When his car breaks down he is given a lift home by Doctor Roberto Miranda. But, in the voice of this good Samaritan, Gerardo's wife, Paulina Salas, thinks she recognizes the man who raped and tortured her as she lay blindfolded in a military detention centre years before. Is this her opportunity for terrifying revenge? This white knuckle thriller is a riveting, intellectual and emotional tug of war.
The cast of ‘Death and the Maiden’, David Webb, David Hemsley-Brown and Nancy Lund
REVIEW OF ‘DEATH AND THE MAIDEN’ BY JEFF THOMSON
Written in 1990 by novelist and playwright Ariel Dorfman, ‘Death and the Maiden’ appears to reflect some of the tensions and pressures Dorfman experienced during his own upbringing. Originally named Vladimiro – after Lenin – much of his early life was shaped by the political activism of his parents in South America.
‘Death and the Maiden’ is a strong piece and emerges as both a political and psychological thriller. The tensions in both the script and Mill Studio Theatre rarely abated as Director, Richard Parish built the atmosphere, systematically positioning one mood upon another. It needed a cast of skill and intellect to exploit this – and got it.
Paulina Salas (played by Nancy Lund) has been a political prisoner in an un-named country and subjected to torture and brutal abuse; this inevitably led to her physical and emotional breakdown.
Her partner Gerardo lovingly supports her but following a tyre blow-out, late one night, is dropped home by ‘good Samaritan’ Dr Roberto Miranda (David Hemsley-Brown). Paulina identifies him as her sadistic jailor. But is he?
The weakness in her accusation is that fifteen years has passed and she never actually saw her tormentor and is relying mostly on the memory of his voice. Dr Miranda is invited for a thank you supper and matters rapidly spiral as Paulina uses a gun to kidnap and interrogate him.
Gerardo, her partner (David Webb) weaves an uneasy path as he attempts to placate and reason with her – his own potential role as head of a newly formed Forgiveness and Reconciliation Ministry is at stake.
At times the tension between cast and audience seemed as one although there was a general stirring of relief when Miranda spat out, “She needs therapy!” “You are her therapy!” retorted Gerardo.
Nancy Lund gave realistic depth and back-story to her portrayal of Paulina – functioning as a coiled spring ready to unleash; it was at times a nail-biting performance.
David Hemsley-Brown brought an urbane plausibility to Dr Miranda using the occasional glance to suggest suppressed levels of fear and intolerance.
But the evening is anchored by David Webb as Paulina’s doubting partner, Gerardo; Webb’s performance controlled the action with a skilful shifting of emotions - often subtle and restrained - but alternating between strength, frustration, impotence and love. Frankly it was a towering performance and I can include it among the best I have seen at The Mill Studio.
Is Dr Miranda guilty? Does Paulina find peace? Ariel Dorfman leaves the conclusion open.
COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON ‘DEATH AND THE MAIDEN’
I loved the play and thought all three actors were brilliant.
Wow! What a powerful drama - an excellent production.
The two boys were very good indeed and Nancy Lund was terrific, quite outstanding in a most difficult role.
Well done all - now your problem is to follow that!
We would like to congratulate you all on yet another great production. We really enjoyed the performances and the subject matter was certainly thought provoking. Well done all!
I so enjoyed your marvellous production.
We went to The Mill last night and were very affected by your production. ‘Enjoyable’ isn't quite the right adjective but we both found it a very worthwhile experience. Congratulations to you and your excellent cast.
I was gripped throughout, it really held my attention
I was aware of all the attention to detail in set, costumes etc. and of course the brilliant overall standard of acting
I did enjoy the play and thought it was a terrific production.
I was gripped (glad we didn't have an interval)
Loved some of the details - like the gold screen coming down at the end
What a thoroughly engrossing performance that was last night.
David Hemsley-Brown made the doctor both a creepily chilling embodiment of how systemic corruption corrodes even those pledged to save lives, and also (somehow improbably) a victim.
You've probably ruined Schubert for us for a while!
Thank-you Lighted Fools - we look forward to the next one
I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Lots of very intense themes - and real suspense. We had a great evening.
Thank you very much for bringing your play to our attention. It made a huge impression on us and has lingered for days.
We very much enjoyed 'Death and the Maiden' and congratulate you all on your outstanding performance.
Not a bundle of laughs! I felt a bit seasick in the front but I only dropped off once!