Set in a South American country after a long period of dictatorship, the moral thriller opens with Paulina waiting at home for her late husband. When he finally arrives, he’s accompanied by a stranger who Paulina thinks she recognises as the man who tortured her years ago, and whom she now wants to victimise. But has she got the right man?
A human rights activist for many years, Dorfman first started writing Death and the Maiden in the mid-1980s, when he was exiled from Chile, then under the military rule of General Pinochet. After Chile became a democracy again in 1990, Dorfman finished the play. His books have been translated into over 30 languages, his plays performed in more than 90 countries.
Death and the Maiden premiered at the Royal Court in July 1991, with Juliet Stevenson as Paulina, Michael Byrne as her husband and Bill Patterson as Dr Miranda. It later transferred to the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, winning the Time Out and Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Play. The 1992 Broadway premiere starred Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman, while Roman Polanski’s 1994 film featured Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.
The new King’s Head production stars American Angelica Torn (Side Man, Anna Christie in New York, Edge at the King’s Head) as Paulina with Rupert Wickham (Journey’s End, Defying Hitler) as husband Gerardo and Leigh Lawson (Noises Off, Art) as the doctor. It’s directed by Paul Alexander, designed by Anna Bell and produced by Philip Emanuel and the King’s Head.
- by Terri Paddock