Highly Recommended **** It has been awhile since I have so thoroughly enjoyed a production at Victory gardens Theater. In fact, when the initial changes in management took place, after a few productions, I felt that there was something missing under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew. Now, with the current production of Ariel Dorfman’s thriller, “Death and The Maiden”, I am happy to say, Victory Gardens Theater is “back!!!”.
This production is directed by Mr. Chew on an amazing set by William Boles that allows us to move about the beach home of Gerardo ( deftly handled by Raul Castillo) and his wife Paulina ( the amazing Sandra Oh). The place could be anywhere. but more than likely Chile, where a new democracy is taking over. Gerardo has been chosen by the President to investigate the crimes, both civil and “war” of the old regime ( dictatorship). As he leaves his meeting, heading home, he finds that he has a flat tire. Upon opening his trunk, he finds that his spare is also flat and that he has no jack. A citizen, driving the same road stops to help and ends up driving him home. This citizen, a Doctor, as it turns out may be one of the people who had held Paulina captive and repeatedly raped and ravaged her during her captivity in a detention camp, many years earlier.
During the 100 minutes ( no intermission) of story telling and suspense building, we find Paulina taking charge and capturing the man she truly feels is her captor and we witness her emotions as she works her revenge . While all this is happening, her husband, who is now responsible for cleaning up all the loose ends of the past, is put in a strange position of being an accomplice to what might be a new crime, again of passion. The Doctor ( a powerful performance by Chicago favorite John Judd) continues to profess that he is not guilty of such crimes and that he is himself a family man who cares about the society he lives in.
This is a taut play that deals with revenge, trauma and perhaps , even forgiveness, as we watch what happens to this woman who still bears the scars of her torture. Is this the man who raped her? She says she recalls his voice clearly and then there is the music he played when he forced her to do things, Shubert’s “Death and the Maiden”, which she finds a cassette of in his car. Circumstantial? Perhaps! But she will not be satisfied until she gets a confession that he is indeed the man. He refuses to admit until he begins to fear for his life, and then , under the influence of Gerardo, agrees to give her what she wants. How can he do this if he is not the man?, Gerard knows the details and to save this man, one who saved him on that lonely night, he agrees to help him write the confession. The story gets very eerie as this point and not wanting to spoil the suspense that Dorfman has in the final scenes, I will leave this for you to see for yourself. It is worth viewing, live!
What makes a spellbinding mystery/thriller work is solid acting, solid directing and of course a well written script. The technical aspects of the production: lighting ( Jesse Klug), sound, (Mikhail Fiksel) and props (Jesse Gaffney) along with the set and fight choreography (Ryan Bourque) made for a very realistic look at these characters, sort of like the “fly on the wall” looking in on theses character’s lives. It works!
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m. 2 p.m. extra on July 2nd
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.(No July 4th)
Saturdays 4 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Tickets range from $40 up and RUSH tickets will be available an hour before curtain.
To purchase tickets visit the box office, call 773-871-3000 or visit www.victorygardens,org
Lots of great dining in the area- street parking/metered and valet parking are available. Public transportation makes it easy.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at ” Death and the Maiden”
There are many FREE programs that will be presented in conjunction with this production, Consult the website for times and topics. Civil rights,Torture survivors, abuse, Police brutality and many others.