Death and the Maiden

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 13 October 2011, Opened 24 October 2011, Closed 31 December 2011 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London

A major revival of Ariel Dorfman's 1990 play Death and the Maiden in London starring Thandie Newton and directed by Jeremy Herrin.

Beware of turning into the enemy you most fear. Years have passed since political prisoner, Paulina suffered at the hands of her captor: A man whose face she never saw, but can still recall with terrifying clarity. Tonight, by chance, a stranger arrives at the secluded beach house she shares with her husband Gerardo, a human rights lawyer. A stranger Paulina is convinced was her tormentor and must now be held to account...

An explosive moral thriller Death and the Maiden is an intense and thrilling account of confession and revenge set against the backdrop of a new democracy, emerging from a long period of dictatorship. Thandie Newton plays 'Paulina', a former political prisoner who struggles to find a form of reconciliation for the experience that she and others, have endured.

The cast for this revival of Death and the Maiden in London features Thandie Newton as 'Paulina Salas' with Tom Goodman-Hill as 'Gerardo Salas' and Anthony Calf as 'Roberto'. The production is directed by Jeremy Herrin with designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Neil Austin, music by Stephen Warbeck and sound by Fergus O'Hare. Thandie Newton was awarded a BAFTA for her role in Crash, Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning film about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles. She played Simon Pegg's ex-girlfriend in Run Fat Boy Run and 'Condoleezza Rice' in Oliver Stone's W. Jeremy Herrin is the Deputy Artistic Director at the Royal Court.

"The role of Paulina is immensely demanding. She must convey deep hurt, rage, frightening competence but borderline psychosis, bitter commonsense and even mischievous scorn. Thandie Newton, a fine screen actress, is brave to accept it as her West End stage debut, and I wish it was a triumph. It may yet be, as it settles: but maybe it is her commendable determination to project properly for the stage that makes her operate too much on one note... Jeremy Herrin directs with visual acuteness, Tom Goodman-Hill is very much the wooden lawyer unable to connect with his wife's tortured psyche. But Anthony Calf is remarkable as the doctor. Cleverly, he conveys in his first chatty scene with Gerardo a certain cockiness: an arrogant tendency to run the conversation. You suddenly sense that this might be a man who once got used to absolute domination. The hairs prickle on your neck." The Times

"The play raises important issues about the nature of revenge and forgiveness, human rights and justice, and was specially chosen as the inaugural show at the newly named Harold Pinter Theatre (formerly the Comedy Theatre) as a tribute to the playwright who was also a human rights activist. Alas, Jeremy Herrin's feeble production does the play little justice, largely thanks to Thandie Newton, best known as a film actress and as the face of Olay, who, in her West End debut, is playing Paulina... As her husband Gerardo, torn between his wife's suffering and what he believes to be right and lawful, Tom Goodman-Hill has nothing to work with. Anthony Calf's doctor manages to provoke one's sympathy, but only for the fact that he has to spend so long strapped to a chair." The Mail on Sunday

"If it has timeliness on its side, it has, alas, little else. Ariel Dorfman's is an odd work that is not nearly as clever and high-minded as it likes to think it is, and the yarn it relates is, one need hardly add, a tall one. It is pitched at an uneasy point midway between Tales of the Unexpected and Stephen King... In her stage debut, Thandie Newton has to lurch, with Goodman-Hill, between moments of Terry and June-like domestic harmony and plunging into the deepest, darkest recesses of the human soul. Neither entirely convinces, but then I suspect it would be difficult for any actor to effect such drastic manoeuvres... All in all, this is a strident, preachy and occasionally overwrought work, and the director Jeremy Herrin's decision to serve it all in one big, one hour and 40 minute dollop certainly doesn't help to make it any more digestible." The Sunday Telegraph

Death and the Maiden was originally staged at The Royal Court Theatre in November 1991 before it transferred for a ten month run at the Duke Of York's Theatre in 1992 starring Juliet Stevenson, Bill Patterson and Michael Byrne. The play was seen the following year in New York at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway for a five month run starring Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman. A film version was released in 1994 starring Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Stuart Wilson.

Death and the Maiden in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 13 October 2011, opened on 24 October 2011 and closed on 31 December 2011 (was booking to 21 January 2012).