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Diciembre

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

Duty and Temptation

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival 2010 – Project Arts Centre, East Essex St, Dublin 2 (Cube space) – 9.30pm (75 minutes) – October 6-10 (October 10 is 4pm matinee only)

This play for three actors is set in Chile of the near future, which is at war with its northern neighbours.  Two twin sisters – each of them pregnant – entertain their solider brother, who is home from the front for 24 hours.  One sister, a pacifist, wants him to desert, but the other wants him to return to do his patriotic duty.

With all the action set around a single table on a single evening, the choice is starkly laid out for Jorge, the soldier.  His ex-girlfriend and aunt also have walk-in parts, trying to tempt him to desert the army.

Since the twin sisters spend most of the time talking about the war and/or Jorge’s decision, their characters veer towards the allegorical, while the main ambiguity seems to reside in Jorge himself, who is an engaging mystery until the end – and maybe after that.

While ostensibly the dramatic focus is one the Great Decision that Jorge must take, the real theme that comes through is how war changes the people who are caught up in it.

All are angered, but in different ways: the warmonger by the deeds of the enemy, the pacifist by the injustice of war; and the soldier by the realities that he alone has to face.  Here the script very effectively tackles the multifaceted effects of war.

Humour – albeit of a black wartime sort – is not lacking, and is needed to balance the highly political content.  Passion is not lacking either, but as the story reaches its climax, a sequence of three tirades from each of the three main characters, almost one after the other in turn, is somewhat exhausting and the tone could be more varied at this point.  The concluding sequence is arresting and intriguingly ambiguous.

The acting is highly convincing, without being overstated, performed in Spanish with English surtitles.  One technical point was that a set of coloured light bulbs, part of the set, lay just below the surtitles, making them difficult to read at times.

Cast Credits: Mariana Munoz, Trinidad González, Jorge Bécker.

Company Credits: Playwright/Director – Guillermo Felipe Calderón Labra. Company: Teatro en el banco

(c) Colman Higgins 2010

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