Death and The Maiden

Ariel Dorfman

Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group

The Royal Scots Club

From 10 August 2015 to 15 August 2015

Rating: **

Review by Graeme Strachan

It's been twenty-five years since Dorfman's play Death and the Maiden was first played, and yet the themes of paranoia, vigilante justice, government coverups and mental illness are all still as relevant and poignant now as they were then.

It's a surprise that it isn't more frequently taken on by young companies, but perhaps this production is an example of why.

Dorfman's play, about the gunpoint kidnapping of a doctor by the unbalanced wife of a government official, hasn't lost any of it's eloquence or power, but the themes and subtleties of portraying the dynamics between—the mentally scarred torture victim wife, her gentle liberal lawyer husband and the aging suspected-torturer doctor—are difficult at best. Sadly, in the case of this production, these subtleties remain elusive.

It's not a bad production; there is merely a lack of conviction and passion from both the characters of Dr Miranda and Gerrardo, with their lines delivered with sincerity but no sense of emotional reality to what is going on. The actress performing Paulina aquits herself better, but, even so, seems to lack the strength that the character requires to sell the idea that her husband wouldn't simply end the entire debacle right there and then.

It is also an unfortunate victim of several unnecessary scene changes, which are superfluous and slow the action down, and a technical error with a camera and projector at the end which rendered the final coda distracting and negated the point of that scene, one which more quick-witted actors could still perhaps have salvaged.