Theatre Info for the Richmond region

Henley Street Theatre/Richmond Shakespeare Death and the Maiden

By • Feb 7th, 2014 • Category: Reviews
Death and the Maiden
Henley Street Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Richmond Shakespeare: (Info) (Web)
CenterStage-Carpenter Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through March 1st
1:40 with intermission
$30/$25 Senior/$15 RAPT, Student
Reviewed February 6th, 2014

I have to be honest. After a year and a half of reviewing theater in Richmond, there are some actors I look forward to seeing perform. One such performer is Katrinah Carol Lewis. For me, it is almost a guarantee that it will be an emotional, intense and mufti-dimensional performance.

Death and the Maiden, which is being produced by the newly combined Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare does not disappoint.

Lewis is powerful as Paulina, a woman in an undisclosed Latin American country who was the victim 15 years ago of state sponsored torture and rape. Her husband Gerardo (David Clark) has recently been appointed by the newly elected president to serve on a commission investigating all abuses by the former government that ended in death. In a twist of fate, Gerardo gets a flat tire and accepts a ride home from a man named Dr. Roberto Miranda (Christopher Dunn), who Paulina believes is the doctor who tortured and raped her in her captivity. Paulina takes the man captive and forces him to stand “trial” in their living room for his crimes.

The first five minutes of the play contain no dialogue, yet Lewis commands the stage.

Clark and Dunn stand their own with Lewis in creating a poignant tale which leaves the audience wondering whether Miranda is guilty or Paulina is simply paranoid and crazy. Is Miranda really the man who played Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” while committing his crimes?

In introducing the show, Artistic Director Jan Powell pointed out that the theatre company not only produces classics, but works that are critical to be discussed. Death and the Maiden is truly one such work. Who is the voice of civilization? When “crazy people” are in power, do we have to indulge them?

There are many intense moments in this play, including a slide show at the end, and some “interesting” action during intermission (that I won’t spoil for future audiences).

While director Gary Hopper did an overall outstanding job in his casting and presentation, there were a few choices I questioned. For instance, Paulina puts her gun away at a strange moment, only to bring it back out later on. A fight scene is a bit unrealistic with some clearly missed blows and others that seemed quite realistic.

Also, BJ Wilkinson’s lights and Andrew Craig’s sound were mostly perfect and added a great deal to the intensity and mood of the play; but it became a bit odd that thunder and lightning only took place between scenes.

Tennessee Dixon’s set worked well for the Latin American home, but I am on the fence about an odd backdrop of stiffly starched clothing from floor to ceiling. While it worked well in the final moments, it might have worked better if it could have been dropped in for the ending, rather than serving as a distraction throughout the play.

Except for these minor flaws, Death and the Maiden is one of the most intense, effective and thought-provoking dramas of the year. The performances and story make this a drama not to be missed.

Photo Gallery

Christopher Dunn as Roberto Miranda and Katrinah Lewis and Paulina Salas David Clark as Gerardo Escobar and Katrinah Lewis as Paulina Salas
Christopher Dunn as Roberto Miranda and Katrinah Lewis and Paulina Salas
David Clark as Gerardo Escobar and Katrinah Lewis as Paulina Salas

Photos by Chris Smith

The Cast

  • Paulina Salas: Katrinah Carol Lewis
  • Gerardo Escobar: David Clark
  • Roberto Miranda: Christopher Dunn

The Crew

  • Director: Gary Hopper
  • Production Stage Manager: Austin Cooper
  • Set Design: Tennessee Dixon
  • Costume Design: Elizabeth Hopper
  • Lighting Design: BJ Wilkinson
  • Sound Design: Andrew Craig
  • Technical Director: Kevin Johnson
  • Fight Choreographer: Aaron D. Anderson
  • Dramaturg: Mac MacDaniel
  • Wardrobe: Jackie Cook

Disclaimer: Henley Street Theatre/Richmond Shakespeare provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review of the preview performance.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

One Response »

  1. I was also totally blown away by this production but rather than finding the sound/light design to be distracting I felt it provided a continuum which kept bringing me back to the core turmoil. The high wall of dirty and fouled clothing, I assumed represented clothing found on the eventually recovered bodies of 1000’s of the Desaparecidos. It provided the literal and psychological backdrop, always present and reminding us that like so many atrocities wrought by men, Yes it can happen again.