Who Killed Pablo Neruda? (A Poet's Journey)

Joseph Whelan

Syracuse University Department of Drama

Quaker Meeting House

From 08 August 2016 to 13 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

An American student falls in love with the poetry of Pablo Neruda and becomes obsessed with discovering the contents of a small white bag he's holding in a cover photograph of her favourite collection of his work. This leads her to delve deeper into his life and the history and politics of Chile and to confront the realities of the man and the mysteries surrounding his death.

It's an energetic piece, fully of charm and no small level of self deprication, as Eedjit's somewhat naive ideas about Neruda and Chile are slowly taken apart piece by piece as she learns more of the man behind the poetry and that his love poems are only scratching the surface of his work.

Syracuse University has created a wholly entertaining piece of theatre, drawing on the darkness as well as the light in the Chilean poet's repertoire and binding it together with a sense of a mystery, which acts primarily as a stepping off point for a deeper self-discovery. The repeated scene of a rooftop seduction growing ever more unpleasant serves as a motif for the growing cynicism of Eedjit, who herself is played by a succession of actors, swapping out as the stages of the story progress.

It's a wonderful experience, rich with poetry and a wisdom that transcends the promise of the concept as it begins. By the end, we've been educated, moved and entertained in equal measure.