Justice questioned in Death and The Maiden
LEONGATHA Lyric Theatre Inc’s harrowing and thought provoking performance of Death and The Maiden offers its audience an often forgotten perspective of the aftermath of war.
The play opened at Leongatha’s Mesley Hall on Friday night and will have a season of seven performances.
Written by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, the plays shines a light on the ongoing suffering of those who survive a dictator’s reign.
Although the play does not name a country, the audience can draw parallels between the world’s conflicts – both past and present.
“The play beckons the questions of how do people transition back into democracy? How do you find justice for those people who have been murdered, tortured or disappeared? How do families rebuild?” director David Tattersall said.
“We have seen this in conflicts like in Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Argentina.
“The (Leongatha Lyric) committee felt this play was too confrontational for a Leongatha audience 10 years ago, but things have changed in years gone by and we were ready to see if portraying these issues would work.”
The three characters represent different sections of a community transitioning back into democracy.
All three evoked mixed feelings of sympathy and fear, allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Melita Tough took on the complex role of Paulina Salas – a victim of the dictatorship who experienced true horrors.
Tough opened the play exactly how the audience would expect; as a depleted and fearful woman.
She expertly transitioned into a woman of power, seeking revenge on those who harmed her.
When Paulina’s husband Gerardo Escobar is saved by a stranger – Doctor Roberto Miranda – from a flat tyre in the middle of the night and invites the doctor to spend the night, Paulina is struck with fear.
She suspects this was the doctor who tortured her during the dictatorship; but is he a true monster or simply a victim of unfortunate circumstance.
The audience is forced to grapple with the question, is Paulina facing her real demons or is she suffering the effects of post traumatic stress disorder?
David Baggallay plays the role of Dr Miranda.
This role represents the dictatorship. However, the audience wrestles with conflicting suggestions of his innocence.
Baggallay’s raw emotion on stage shows a man fearing for his life, and evokes feelings of confusion within the audience. Is this man truly being held against his will by mistake or did he commit terrible crimes? Does he deserve such treatment?
The mediator between the two is played by Todd Miller.
Miller’s character Gerardo represents justice.
However, Miller’s characterisation denotes despair or frustration. With few victories as he tries to reason with Paulina and Dr Miranda, there is no suggestion as to whether justice wins out in the end, fuelling the audience with more questions even after the curtains close.
The cast and Mr Tattersall are to be commended for the professionalism in which they handled such a controversial topic and for delivering such an engaging performance with a minimalist cast, crew and set.
Mr Tattersall chose an intimate, yet effective, setting for the performance.
With a traverse stage setting, the audience sees its reflection in the eyes of the audience on the other side of the set – a metaphor for the audience looking at themselves in a mirror to discover how they would confront the horrors presented.
The lighting and surround sound was a great success from the crew, adding to the atmosphere in the psychological thriller.
Mr Tattersall praised both the cast and crew for the extremely high standard performance and for taking on such challenging tasks.
There are four performances left; three night performances starting at 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and a 2pm matinee on Saturday.
To book your ticket, head to www.lyrictheatre.net.au.
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