The 1990 play Death and the Maiden takes place in an unnamed country "that has recently emerged from a long period of dictatorship," perhaps similar to playwright Ariel Dorfman's native Chile. Fifteen years earlier, Paulina was kidnapped, tortured, and raped, and spends most of her life hiding in her beach house with her husband Gerardo, who has recently been appointed to a commission to find and punish the people who committed atrocities during the dictatorship. But only those ending in death, so Paulina fears that her captors (whom she never saw due to a blindfold) will never come to justice. By chance meeting, a Dr. Miranda arrives at the beach house, and Paulina instantly recognizes his voice as one of the men responsible for her assault. She ties him up, holds a gun to his head, and puts him on trial. Gerardo doesn't believe his wife and defends Dr. Miranda. And it's unclear to the audience as well whether the doctor is the sadistic man who participated in countless atrocities against Paulina and others, or an innocent man falsely accused. All else being equal I tend to believe the woman, but there are just enough glimmers of uncertainty to leave me a bit unsure what, and whom, to believe.
|Peter Christian Hansen, Craig Johnson, and Stacia Rice|
(photo by Aaron Fenster)
The lovely beachy set features designer Michael Hoover's clean lines, in cool shades of blue and tan. The peaceful surroundings are in sharp contrast to the turmoil of the story, both past and present.
Death and the Maiden continues through February 21 (discount tickets available on Goldstar). I can't say it's a fun play, and it doesn't wrap things up nicely, but it's worth your time to see these three talented actors tackle this meaty, thought-provoking, and yes, disturbing play.
*Last year plans were announced for a new residential and commercial building on the site of the Garage, with a new theater as part of the new space. I have not been able to find any updates on the project since then. But the Garage is a nice little venue, so I hope it sticks around in some form or another.