Abbey demonstrates the art of oppression

The Company of Ten presents Widows

Ariel Dorfman’s early play is at the Abbey Theatre

First published in Theatre Borehamwood Times: Photograph of the Author by

The fate of political prisoners from military coups and uprisings may never be known meaning loved ones of the missing might never find rest.

Ariel Dorfman’s plays reflect his involvement in challenging repressive regimes, notably in Chile, the country where he lived for many years until he was exiled when General Pinochet came to power in 1973.

The Company of Ten has chosen to stage an early work by the playwright and human rights campaigner.

First staged in 1983, Widows is set in a war-torn village in an unnamed country where all the men have disappeared. Their mothers, wives and daughters wait by the river and mourn. It is only when bodies start to be washed up that the women defy the military.

Audiences will identify current injustices in many countries in the events that form the backdrop to the play.

Raw and powerful, Widows explores the brutal effects of tyranny as did Dorfman’s more famous play, Death and the Maiden.

Director Philip Reardon says he has wanted to direct Widows ever since he saw the first UK production at the Edinburgh Festival in 1995.

“That first performance made a huge impact on me, which was repeated when I acted the role of the Captain in a production at the University of Hertfordshire,” explains Philip. “It is such a powerful and complex play, with so many different strands.

“It is a challenge to put on, with a cast of no less than 16 people, set in 15 different locations,” continues Philip. “We have used video footage to present one element in the complex story, which brings a new dimension to the whole production. I think the play will challenge the audience’s views of the human consequences of political and military dictatorships.”

The Company of Ten production runs from January 25 to February 4 at 8pm in the Studio at The Abbey Theatre, Holywell Hill, St Albans. There are no performances on January 26 and 27. Details: 01727 857861, www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

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