Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Teja Verdes, Red Stitch, June 7, 2006

Teja Verdes by Fermin Cabal
Red Stitch Actors Theatre

Red Stitch, Rear 2 Chapel St, St. Kilda, June 7 until July 1, 2006

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on June 7, 2006

Listening to the horrific details of the systematic torture of “The Disappeared” in Teja Verdes, is simultaneously numbing and painful.

The play, by Spanish playwright, Fermin Cabal, reveals in an unsentimental style, the atrocities perpetrated in Chile after the coup in 1973 by General Pinochet.

The gasping cruelty of the torturers is described almost dispassionately in most of the seven monologues. Their lack of sentimentality makes them sometimes unbearable, sometimes more accessible.

Grieving women were the face of “The Disappeared” and, in the play, it is seven women who compellingly reveal their truth about the past.

A young woman, Colorina, (Verity Charlton) disappears because of her  relationship to a Marxist boyfriend. Colorina herself speaks coolly to us, detailing her arrest, abduction and subsequent abuse.

Following her is her Friend, (Olivia Connolly) who shares her cell and similar torture.

In contrast to the victims, is the Doctor, (Kate Cole) a woman who brazenly reframes the tortures when she lies to the Committee for Reconciliation in the 90s.

The most chilling voice is the almost childlike gravedigger (Evelyn Krape) who seems bemused by the increasing number of bodies “found” on the streets.

The Informer (Olivia Connolly) confesses her betrayal of Colorina and others. She elicits our sympathy when we hear how her son was brutalised.

The most hateful character is Pinochet’s defence lawyer, (Laura Lattuada) who mocks, taunts and patronises the court, justifying Pinochet’s brutal actions as par of being a leader.

In our safe, warm homes, such inhumanity seems impossibly brutal and incomprehensible. However, the cruelty and grief are real.

Krape almost steals the show with a beautifully inflected portrayal of the gravedigger that balances naivete, humour and knowingness.

Lattuada, as the Lawyer is frighteningly cool and confronting and Cole’s adamant lying as the Doctor is totally credible.

Connolly moves us with the Informer’s confession and Charlton underplays Colorina appropriately with great control.

Director, Jonathan Messer, focuses on the voices of the women and allows Cabal’s monologues to create the details of the torture. Cabal’s language is poetic, his construction deceptively simple and the outcome emotional and educational.

By Kate Herbert

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