REVIEW: Death and the Maiden

In Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, being presented by Plosive Productions at the Gladstone, a man stranded on the side of the road is helped by a good Samaritan and invites him home for a drink. The next morning the man’s wife has the Samaritan tied up in his kitchen at gun point.

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What did you think? Was Dr. Miranda more than meets the eye? What should Paulina have done? Tell us in the comments below.

Death and the Maiden runs at the Gladstone until May 19th. Full list of show times and how to buy tickets at

And if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link off to our preview video for Death and the Maiden featuring cast interviews and a peek at a few scenes from the show: http://productionottawa/deathandthemaiden

For lovers of the written word, here’s the review script in print form:

Death and the Maiden, written by Argentine-Chilean playwright, Ariel Dorfman, explores the idea of what it’s like to have absolute power over someone’s life.

The play is set in 1990, fifteen years after the Maiden of the play, Paulina Salas, had been kidnapped, raped and tortured during the Pinochet regime. Played with real heart by Geneviève Sirois, Paulina now spends most of her time home alone, never having been able to move forward with her life. That is, until her husband, Gerardo brings home the good Samaritan who helped him when he was stranded on the side of the road and Paulina recognizes the voice of one of the men who tortured her all those years back.

Joining Sirois on stage are Chris Ralph as her devoted and trying hard to cope with what’s going on husband, and Paul Rainville as the did he or didn’t he good Samaritan, Dr. Miranda. All three characters have strongly opposing positions during the play and each of the actors plays the conflict to great effect.

In the first few scenes, Death and the Maiden does peter along as it tries to find its momentum. There were times when it felt like the actors were wandering aimlessly around the set.

But the story and play hit its really hit its stride once Paulina holds Miranda at gun point and ties him up. You’re never sure if Paulina will shoot the doctor or not. You’re never sure whether Miranda did it or not. And you’re never sure what Gerardo — who doesn’t want to see a man murdered in cold blood by his wife in his kitchen — can do about any of it. And all this leaves you on the edge of your seat. The show benefits from a really quick pacing from this point on. All the dialogue clips along nicely and the show never slows down. There are even some moments of black comedy during it all.

The play asks questions about the essence of cruelty and what a woman, or even country, needs to move on from such a tragedy. How do we end the cycle of violence? But the real draw of the show is the suspense from not knowing who’s right and who’s wrong. Whether Miranda is lying, or Paulina has gone off the deep edge. With an engaging story, beautiful set and great performances, Death and the Maiden is definitely worth seeing.

Show producer: Allan Mackey
Reviewer: Kurt Shantz
Show produced by Valley Wind Productions for Production Ottawa

Kurt Shantz

About Kurt Shantz

Kurt Shantz is a Theatre and Scriptwriting graduate and an occasional Should You See It reviewer. He currently works as a warehouse clerk, but has big aspirations of someday achieving his dream of becoming a senior warehouse clerk. He's also been known to write on occasion.

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