Belfast Telegraph

Tejas Verdes: Moving tale of Chile's 'disappeared'

By Grania McFadden

Church bells ring out at the start of this remarkable play by Fermin Cabal (translated by William Gregory), which evokes the horrors of Chile's 'disappeared' through the poetic remembrance of one young woman, Corolina.

A series of seven monologues take us to Tejas Verdes, a hotel where the army set up its notorious detention centre, and where it tortured and murdered more than 3,000 detainees.

Designer Ciaran Bagnall has transformed the theatre space at the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast into a large room overshadowed by a wooden walkway. Our feet crunch on the gravel as we set out on a journey into night.

Director Sophie Motley keeps her cast still and composed, leaving the drama to the words they speak: of electric cables and rotting limbs; unmarked graves and weeping mothers.

Corolina (Amy Molloy) recounts her kidnap and torture (her crime was to fall in love with a young Marxist), and how the church bells she listened to in her parents' garden could be heard from her prison cell.

Each actor gives a compelling performance, and each story takes us further into the heart of darkness. It's a brutal act of collective memory which is at times almost unbearable. This is Prime Cut at the top of its game.

Five stars

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