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A psychological thriller

Pictured: Susie Porter

Some plays maintain their relevance because some horrors never go away. Ariel Dorfman’s psychological thriller Death and the Maiden is one such work. Featuring Susie Porter, Eugene Gilfedder and Steve Mouzakis, this new co-production between Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) and directed by Leticia Cáceres, is at The Wharf from 28th August (opening night 1 September), following a season in Melbourne.

Military rule is over and the new democracy looks towards a brighter future. But for victims of the old regime, such as Paulina (Porter), memories are a prison. Years ago, she was blindfolded, abducted, and held as a political prisoner.

Through months of pain and degradation she never saw her captor but she did hear his voice, calm yet menacing in her ear, a voice she will never forget. When her husband Gerardo (Mouzakis) invites a stranger (Gilfedder) back to their isolated beach house, she hears that voice again.

Written in the wake of the Pinochet regime in Chile, Death and the Maiden won the 1992 Olivier Award for Best New Play and STC presented the Australian premiere and national tour that same year.

In a recent essay for the Weekend Australian, Ariel Dorfman wrote, “I can’t help but ask if many years from now another revival of the play will open in Melbourne and Sydney and I will again, all over again, be writing that phrase: this story happened yesterday but it could well be today. Will I write that I fear now and tomorrow that this story will repeat itself again and again?”

Ariel Dorfman has been called a literary grandmaster and one of the greatest living Latin American novelists. He is a Chilean-American author of fiction, plays, librettos, poems, essays and films in both Spanish and English. Among his other plays are Reader, Widows, The Other Side, Purgatorio, and Picasso’s Closet. Dorfman’s fiction includes Mascara, Hard Rain, The Last Song of Manuel Sendero, Konfidenz, The Nanny and the Iceberg and The Burning City which was co-authored with his son Joaquin. A documentary based on his memoir, A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel, received numerous prizes and was shortlisted for an Academy Award.

Leticia Cáceres is Associate Director at Melbourne Theatre Company.

Cast: Eugene Gilfedder, Steve Mouzakis, Susie Porter

28 August – 17 October. Opening Night: 1 September at 8 pm

Wharf 1, Sydney Theatre Company, Pier 4/5 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay

Box Office: 02 9250 1777. Tickets from $58 (fees apply).

Mote stories in Showbiz News.

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