Most Boston area residents are very familiar with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's annual summer production of a Shakespeare play on Boston Common. You may be less familiar with the fact that CSC also maintains a vibrant residency on campus at Babson College in Wellesley, producing plays of the highest artistic caliber as Commonwealth Shakespeare Company AT Babson. The current production is the taut and gripping drama, "Death and the Maiden" by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, and Directed by Steve Maler.
The action of the play is set in a generic Latin American nation, recently having replaced a violent military junta with a duly elected President. The new leader has appointed Gerardo Escobar (Mickey Solis) to a commission that is mandated to investigate abuses committed by the previous regime. His wife, Paulina Salas (Flora Diaz) had been a victim of abduction and violent abuse by the old regime 15 years earlier. She is still recovering. The tension mounts after Gerardo experiences car trouble, and is rescued by a "Good Samaritan," Dr. Roberto Miranda (Mark Torres). Even though Paulina had been blindfolded during her days of abduction and torture, she recognizes Dr. Miranda as one of her torturers, based on his voice, smell, texture of his skin, and his possession of a cassette tape of Schubert's classic string quartet, "Death and the Maiden." Paulina manages to immobilize the good doctor, and coerces Gerardo into joining her in putting him on trial for his past sins against her. And the action escalates to the point where audience members have to remember to breathe.
The writer wisely leaves the denouement of this collision ambiguous, forcing each audience member to ask, at the end of the play: "What would I have done if I were in Paulina's shoes?"
|Mark Torres as Dr. Miranda|
Flora Diaz as Paulina
"Death and the Maiden"
by Ariel Dorfman
Directed by Steve Maler
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company AT Babson
Through February 11th
Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots
A simple Set of raised platform and dining room table has been designed by Clint Ramos, who also designed the Costumes. Effective Lighting is by Jeff Adelberg, and stunningly effective Sound design is by Arshan Gailus.
Director Steve Maler has cast three gifted actors, who take us on a harrowing journey. Under his direction, they ratchet up the tension that feels as taut as an E string on the first violin in Shubert's eponymous string quartet. Each of the three actors have moments of quiet reflection, as well as bombastic outbursts. This play requires great physical stamina and emotional resilience on the part of the cast members. And they deliver with near perfection.
This is dark subject matter that delves into the blackest corners of the human spirit and collective soul. Come prepared to wrestle with deep issues. And come prepared to see theater at its best - brilliantly written, skillfully directed, and superbly well executed by three actors who play off of one another like members of a chamber orchestra interpreting Schubert.
February 8-10 at 7:30pm
February 11 at 3:00pm
At Babson College in Wellesley.