Dorfman’s Purgatorio Makes UK Premiere at ArcolaDate: 4 January 2008
Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorio, a “thematic sequel” to his award-winning Death and the Maiden, will receive its British premiere this month at north London’s Arcola Theatre, where its limited season runs from 18 January to 9 February 2008 (previews from 15 January).
Death and the Maiden premiered in 1991 at the Royal Court before transferring to the West End's Duke of York's and scooping Oliviers for Best New Play and Best Actress for Juliet Stevenson. That play - set in the aftermath of a vicious South American dictatorship in which the protagonist Paulina was tortured and raped by a government official who has now turned up as her husband's house guest - drew on Dorfman's own experiences in Pinochet-ruled Chile. Death and the Maiden was subsequently made into a film, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.
Although Purgatorio does not feature the same characters as Death and the Maiden, Dorfman has himself described it as a “thematic sequel”, one which goes the step beyond confronting one’s aggressors to ask: “what if the person who holds the key to my salvation is the one I have hurt most in this world?”
Previously tipped to premiere in the West End with Gael Garcia Bernal in 2002/3 (See The Goss, 20 Jan 2003), the play was first produced at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2005. The UK premiere will star Adjoa Andoh and Patrick Baladi. It’s directed by Daniele Guerra, with sets and lighting by Charles Edwards and costumes by Jon Morrell, who jointly won a 2006 Olivier for Jenufa. It’s produced by the Arcola Theatre.
Also at the Arcola this month, running in Studio 2 from 8 January to 2 February 2008, Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan who hit the headlines in 2004, turns his experience to drama in The British Ambassador’s Belly Dancer. At the same time as Murray spoke out against the British Government using intelligence gained under torture, he left his wife for a belly dancer named Nadira who he’d seen in Tashkent.
Written by Murray and his now-wife Nadira, who also performs it, The British Ambassador’s Belly Dancer promises to reveal the full “unadulterated” story: “the politics, the dirty tricks, the shenanigans, the journey from ambassadorial palace to rented flat in Shepherds Bush and Craig's obsession with Dennis the Menace ties”. It’s co-written by Alan Hescott, directed by Thomas Hescott and presented by Fledgling.
- by Terri Paddock