Death and the Maiden-Really DAMNED Good
For a play that could be all exclamation points, all shouting (NAZI-ISH DOCTORS! DASTARDLY GENITAL EXPERIMENTS! TORTURE! ELECTRODES! RAPE!) Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman -directed by Anthony Lane Hinkle starring Kate Falcone, Steven Shriner and Mark C. Franceschini- is like a low pitched scream in the middle of your brain. A scream set to beautiful strains of classical music. A scream that will. not. stop. Hinkle’s direction is so fucking subtle and the performances so fucking good that I found myself reading entire character histories in the twitch of his face and the way she grasps that handgun. The show deftly sidesteps any campy haunted house stuff and delivers up a REAL ghost (no more than fifteen feet away, thanks to Spotlighters claustrophobic performance space) and damned if it isn’t a doozy. Paulina and Gerardo (Falcone and Shriner) are a married couple living in the ruins of an unnamed country’s-probably Chile-oh so recent totalitarian regime. One night a stranger (Franceschini) lends a hand with some car trouble and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, Paulina is tying him to a chair and hissing about recognizing “his skin” (SO CREEPY, JESUS). Can it be possible that this Good Samaritan so vulnerably tied to a rolling chair in his sad boxer shorts is the same man who raped, tortured and broke Paulina fifteen years ago? If you are, unlikely as it is, able to tear your eyes away from Falcone’s face long enough to register anything else, you will be rewarded by a delicious beach house set that is so beige and classy that you can’t help but think how ropes of blood splattered across the lanai would shock the shit out of the neighbors (Kudos to Hinkle wearing his Set Designer hat). Similarly, sound by Brian Kehoe-particularly during the last scenes-SERIOUSLY gets under your skin. Lights by Kel Millionie are tight, focused and perfectly controlled especially as some of the action takes place in a near, but not total, blackout. That’s hard to light, yo.
Bottom line: you need to go see this RIGHT NOW so that we can talk about it. RIGHT NOW.
Running at Spotlighters Theater through November 10th.
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