Death and the Maiden

August 11, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

★★★★☆   Painfully poignant

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241) Mon 11 – Sat 15 Aug 2015

Emotionally charged, Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group’s production of Death and the Maiden is poignant, gripping and full of pain.

Written by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman in 1990, Death and the Maiden was a gift to his transitioning country when he returned after 17 years in exile. As you’d expect, it packs a powerful punch exploring the nature of political imprisonment, as well as the pain, hurt and scarring that accompanies it.

Rhiannon King and Gregor Haddow in rehearsal. Photo Judith Fieldhouse

Rhiannon King and Gregor Haddow in rehearsal. Photo Judith Fieldhouse

Opening with a distraught and fearful woman hiding in her home, we are first introduced to Paulina (Rhiannon King). King shows us genuine fear and suspicion when her husband, Gerardo (Gregor Haddow) returns home late, and with Roberto (Chris Pearson), a friendly gentleman that helps him on the way home.

Paulina was a former political prisoner, subjected to rape and torture at the hands of unknown oppressors. 15 years later, she remains a shell of a woman, unable to live without her fear. She longs to release her fear and anger, she longs to be able to listen to Schubert again without physical sickness. But Schubert’s composition Death and the Maiden, played during her repeated rapes, forever haunts her.

She believes, almost completely, that Roberto is the sadistic doctor who assisted with her torture and repeatedly raped her during her ordeal. She recognises his voice, his skin and his smell. And she’s convincing – enough to persuade the level-headed Gerardo to undertake a home trial of sorts.

evocative production

So much so that what unfolds is either a traumatising confession of a heinous man or a abhorrent crime against an innocent one. Dorfman’s clever script and Claire Wood’s careful direction combine here to provided an evocative production exploring the nature of pain, resilience and the potential for the oppressed to become the oppressor.

The small cast play their parts well, making it easy to relate to both sides of the story. There may have been a few first night stumbles here and there, but they can be easily forgiven. The production leaves a level of uncertainty over whether what transpires is evidence of Roberto’s guilt or Paulina’s paranoia – echoing the trials to uncover transgressions that could have occurred under any dictatorship.

There’s so much tension in Death and the Maiden that it leaves unresolved and thought-provoking questions. This is a show that will really make you think about the nature of truth and justice, and leave you with a chill.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241) 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE
Monday 11 – Saturday 15 August 2015
Daily: 9pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/death-and-the-maiden
Grads website: http://www.egtg.co.uk/

ENDS

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