Monday, March 12, 2018

Death and the Maiden—Bag & Baggage—Hillsboro, OR

                                                     The “Master” Race

     Genocide has probably been around on this Earth, in one form or another, to wipe out and/or demean a race of people, since the beginning of Man.  Certainly Hitler and his boys were prime examples of that during the last century but they have had lots of imitators before and since then, e.g. the Crusades; our treatment of Native Americans and African-Americans; and continuous examples in the Middle-East, Africa, South America and Asia.  And the results of many of these efforts—cities reduced to rubble, death of many thousands of innocents, and resentment of other nations, as well as history.  What a prize!  As the folk song goes, “…when will they ever learn…?”

     This play gives us a microcosm of a result of these two factions meeting some years later in the guise of just three characters.  There is the alleged victim, Paulina (Mandana Khoshnevisan), a woman, still living in Chile, who was caught up in such an action fifteen years earlier, and is still haunted by the memories, especially the Schubert piece, “Death and the Maiden,” the interrogator would play during her torturing.  Although, blind-folded, she swears she would know him by his music and his voice.

     Her husband, Gerardo (Nathan Dunkin), is currently a lawyer and on a commission to seek out victims of these atrocities and, perhaps, the perpetrators, as well, so that Justice can be served.  And the third member of this odd tribunal, is Dr. Miranda (Anthony Green), the alleged interrogator, who is now living a comfortable lifestyle by the seashore, with his family, who denies any involvement with the ruling party at the time.  When these three factions come together, explosions must follow, and they do, but it will be up to you to see it to discover the outcome.

     The interesting part of this play, although it does go into some descriptions of what happened, it raises a larger question—what to do about it and where does the Truth lie?  These participants represent, in a broad sense, a victim, a victimizer, and an arbitrator, of sorts.  Questions raised are, would the victim be so traumatized by her experiences that, after such a long passage of time, could she be accurate as to her memories?  Also, how would she feel if faced with this monster?  What kind of fate would she want to see him get?  Also, a loved one, how should/would they react if they came across such a beast?  And how does such a brute justify his actions?  What kind of impartial justice could there be in such a situation?  Ponder these when observing/experiencing this production.

     Greer, a very fine actor in her own right, is now on the other side of the “boards” and gets a chance to flex even more her artistic muscles.  So, when choosing a piece to direct, it is not surprising she would prefer one that concentrated on character studies.  She has chosen her cast very well and they are all completely convincing.  What is good to see is that they all play it with such sincerity, that one is left with doubts, at times, as to who is telling the truth and what possible outcomes could there be?  Tyler Buswell has a nice open set which gives the actors a lot of room to explore.

     Khoshnevisan is great at giving us a person who appears both conflicted at times, bordering sanity, and being driven with a purpose in mind, leaving you to wonder as to her state.  Dunkin and Green I have reviewed many times before and are always an asset to a production, both excellent here.  They also show that these characters are not just black and white but various shades of gray, keeping one guessing as to their possible actions, a tribute to their acting, as well as the directing.

     I recommend this production, especially for the acting and directing but, keep in mind, it involves very adult situation.  If you do choose to see it, please tell the Dennis sent you.

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