Death and the Maiden (2003)

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by Ariel Dorfman

Directed by James Newall, Assistant Director - Geraldine Garner

Performances: Wed 14th – Sat 17th May 2003, Prompt Corner


This is one of those plays which will carry its relevance forward for as long as people continue to commit atrocities. We all know of a country somewhere, at some time, where a despotic regime has oppressed its population, where disappearances and mysterious murders become commonplace and where fear has governed. We can think of Milosovic or the stories we hear even now of Saddam Hussein's long rule in Iraq, to name two of the most recent. This play does not judge the situation directly, although Ariel Dorfman does have personal experience of watching his country, Chile, go through tremendous social upheavals and appalling suffering at the hands of its ruling elite. He prefers to look at the effects that come afterwards.

One of the things that drew me to this play was the relationship between the characters and their motivations. Can we possibly imagine how these two people, Gerardo and Paulina, stayed together before and after Paulina's incarceration? Can a person love so much they will endure degradation and debasement to keep their partner safe? Can this person overcome their physical abuse enough to sustain a loving relationship? What would that relationship be like?

How would Gerardo regard his wife and how can he bring her back to a normal life? In the middle of the night, his wife ties up a stranger in the middle of their living room and accuses him of raping and torturing her. How would you react?

How do you react when you've helped out a man in the middle of the night and his wife then ties you up and accuses you of hideous crimes. Or how would we feel to have hidden a secret for so long only to have it revealed so dramatically?

The doctor is an enigma, I leave you all to make your own decisions as to his innocence or his guilt. Much to my delight, we had a split decision amongst ourselves and this has led to some fascinating rehearsals. <ref>Director's note from the main SLT site</ref>




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