Death and the Maiden

Date 26th September 2013
Society Leighton Buzzard Drama Group
Venue Leighton Buzzard Theatre
Type of Production Play
Director Ann Kempster

Report

Author: Enid Cooper

Although no country is named in this play, Death and the Maiden relates to the time of post dictatorship Chile. It concerns one of the victims of Pinochet’s regime and it asks fundamental questions about the nature of justice.

The setting was simple but this was enhanced by the use of atmospheric lighting which added much to the mood of the piece.

The opening was tense and Ann was able to maintain that tension throughout the play. This was not a straightforward task however, but the varying moods of the play and the characters, and the twists in the plot, had been carefully choreographed to ensure that the audience was kept in suspense. Ann was fortunate to be able to cast three talented actors who were thoroughly believable.

Emma Stone played the deeply troubled Paulina, a victim of torture and rape under an unnamed previous ruthless dictatorship. Her very first non speaking appearance demonstrated her fragile personality. Her insecurity was very evident at the beginning of the play.  However when she recognises the voice of her torturer  Roberto, her character changes. She is intent on revenge and acts to achieve this. She uses a gun she has hidden to take control, and begins to dominate the action, her insecurity disappears and we witness an avenging fury insisting that Roberto be held to account. The development of this character was very well acted and maintained building up to dramatic climaxes.  

Jo Taylor played Paulina’s partner Renata. At first she is the dominant partner. She believes that the new government is doing it’s best to right the wrongs of the previous dictatorship. This was another finely judged performance as her views are modified and complicated. Roberto played by Mark Croft is the catalyst for these events. He did this well and was very convincing as the plausible person who protests his innocence.

These were three first rate utterly believable performances. Using a variety of pace, tone and delivery, the moods and arguments had been carefully plotted so that the sympathy of the audience continually shifted.  These subtle and ingenious performances made for an uneasy and tense atmosphere – is Paulina mad, is Roberto innocent or guilty? But more than that the performance raised many moral questions about vengeance and how society can escape from a history of violence.

The ending is an expressionistic device, mirrors are turned on the audience.  We see Paulina and Renata at the concert.  Roberto is sitting at a distance.  Is he an hallucination, what has happened?

The play has no resolution. but gives us much to reflect on.

This was a thought provoking play, directed assiduously and well performed by a talented trio of actors.