Villa & Discurso – The MAC
May 30, 2014 Laura Caldwell 5 Comments
Disappearances, torture houses, political unrest.
Belfast based Prime Cut Production’s latest offerings could be performances about our very own Northern Ireland, yet the three plays Villa, Discurso and Tejas Verdes which feature at The MAC from 27th May to the 4th June make up the #Chilogy – a trilogy of plays about Chile.
We went to the opening night, a double bill of Villa and Discurso and to be perfectly honest, didn’t really know what to expect. Before we enter the upstairs theatre we are informed that there will be no re-admittance to the first play Villa once it has begun. It quickly becomes clear why:
The traditional raised stage at the front of tiered seats has been shunned in favour of this almost amphitheatre-esque set up. The only props are a small table, a box, a pad of paper, a pen and three seats. It’s up to the actor’s talent and the sound and lighting to guide us through the performance – a job they more than deliver on.
Villa sees three women trying to decide how to remodel the blood-soaked Villa Grimaldi, a place where, during Pinochet’s regime in Chile approximately 5000 detainees were tortured, raped and killed. Should it be a museum, a house of horrors, or should it stay as it is? These are just some of the solutions the women attempt to come up with while discussing how modern day Chile should cope with its awful past…
The play is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before – it’s passionate, immersive and confusing. We enter the situation not knowing what is going on, and only through the women’s conversations does it slowly reveal and unravel what is happening before us. This sense of unknowing and confusion only serves to heighten the experience, and as the three women battle it out expressing their opinions, hiding their own beliefs and struggling to make sense of what the best course of action would be, you can’t help but put yourself in their shoes following the twists and turns that are inevitable in a decision like this.
Despite this being undoubtedly about Chile, you can’t help but draw parallels between this and the recent uproar about the Maze Prison. The thick Northern Irish accents of the cast add to this feeling and personally I think that Northern Ireland is the perfect setting for such a controversial and challenging performance.