Death and the Maiden, the critically acclaimed 1990 play by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, returns to London's West End 20 years since it first premiered at the Royal Court Theatre.
The much awaited return in 2011 is at the Harold Pinter Theatre, where Jeremy Herrin, Associate Director of the Royal Court, directs Thandie Newton, Tom Goodman-Hill and Anthony Calf.
The Olivier Award-winning and critically acclaimed play is a chilling account of the reign of terror under the years of dictatorship in South America.
Death and the Maiden, Dorfman's most famous play, describes the encounter of a former torture victim with the man she believed tortured her. Dorfman identified "the stark, painful Chilean transition to democracy" as Death and the Maiden's central theme.
The play was made into a film in 1994 by Roman Polanski starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.
The show runs from 24 October 2011 to 21 January 2012, Monday through Saturday, at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London, Panton Street.
More info: www.deathandthemaidentheplay.com
Paulina Salas is a former political prisoner in an unnamed Latin American country who had been raped by her captors, led by a sadistic doctor whose face she never saw. The rapist doctor played Schubert's composition Death and the Maiden during the act of rape; hence the play's title.
Years later, after the (also unnamed) repressive regime has fallen, Paulina lives in an isolated country house with her husband, Gerardo Escobar. When Gerardo comes back from a visit to the president, he gets a flat tire. A stranger named Dr. Miranda stops to assist him. Dr. Miranda drives Gerardo home and later in the night he returns. Paulina recognizes Miranda's voice and mannerism as that of her rapist, and takes him captive in order to put him on trial and extract a confession from him.
Unconvinced of his guilt, Gerardo acts as Roberto Miranda's lawyer and attempts to save his life. After hearing the full story of her captivity from Paulina, Gerardo formulates a confession with Roberto to appease Paulina's madness and set her free from her past.
Paulina records the entire confession and has Roberto write it out and sign it. She sends Gerardo out to get Roberto's car so he can go home. While they are alone for the last time, Paulina accuses Roberto of being unrepentant and guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Throughout the play it is uncertain whether details are evidence of Roberto's guilt or Paulina's paranoia. At the end of the play it is unclear who is innocent.