Film and Play Reviews 2011

Hatred and Forgiveness

Source: Enrique Centeno Teatro Critica

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© Teatro Español.
It´s already close to the end when we understand we are not before a Purgatorio Mental Sanatorium. In his spotless consulting room, a typical doctor, white coat, notepad in hand, will begin to question the usual patient. He is taking notes during the continuous interrogation, becoming increasingly demanding, violent and accusing. Hammering, key by key, until reaching the highest pitch of tension. As we will see repeatedly, it´s the method used for the confession of errors or sins of hatred. The one who endures it is defending herself and recounting her inner lives. Later, the unexpected will begin.

Ariel Dorfman always writes his plays in an almost exclusively textual manner. Furthermore, on enclosed stages. He is an author who always enriches the language: its rhythms, its decisive moments, its literary richness, and perhaps the most difficult, to sustain only two characters. In the aforementioned first scene, she - no name is mentioned, not even to the individuals referred to - will end up defeated in spite of her defence. Is it true she still keeps her rage intact? Maybe justifying her savagery? It´s he who perhaps seeks revenge, hatred and mental cruelty.

There are no windows here, nor any air beyond the walls. A [place with] No Exit (Sartre), but which is observed: the public, around three sides of the stage, watches it from very close up. Dorfman must be truly proud to rely on this cast. Here is Elias, one of the great actresses of our stage; I was so close to her this time that, yet again, I was left astounded. The well-known film actor Viggo Mortensen does a magnificent piece of work, which starts from the moment he pretends to be the psychologist. He has a warm voice and a wealth of technique; he takes advantage of his Argentinian speech, especially in this false character, just as he does in the later ones.

The author makes us wait for him to turn the tables: he has them leave through the fixed entrance, and scarcely a few moments later, Elias appears, transformed into a psychologist, together with the agreed upon patient, Mortensen. Now it will be she who pulls on the boxing gloves for the mental battle, unrelenting, blow after blow, in her questions about his injustices, his invading belligerence. Until she wears him down, cornered and exhausted now, crouched against the wall. The battle will not end here, the role reversal repeating itself, as was agreed upon, with this sort of Medea who confesses to the murder of her two children.

It actually was a couple seeking their own recovery. Dorfman wants to forgive the dictatorships, the crimes in his own land as well as the ones in Central Europe with a Purgatorio of sins. He didn´t do it in his previous social theatre, and now, as a sensitive man, he prefers forgiveness, achieving rehabilitation, absolution and reconciliation. We would like to see this play in his Chile and Argentina, or in Bosnia and Serbia.

Fascinating text which Josep María Mestres has directed brilliantly to achieve passion for more than an hour and a half of this face to face confrontation.
Last edited: 19 November 2011 08:08:01
© Enrique Centeno.