Widows at The Abbey Theatre Studio*****

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Widows at The Abbey Theatre Studio***** Widows at The Abbey Theatre Studio*****

The Company of Ten certainly have a good reputation. All those I spoke to who had seen them before had nothing but praise for their tackling of controversial topics and the immense quality of their acting. The term ‘emotional intensity’ arose frequently; I can assure you now, it is a compliment fully deserved.

Based on the aftermath of Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile, Widows follows the tale of an entirely female village. Its men imprisoned by an oppressive regime, the women become increasingly defiant in their stand against the local captain over their right to bury their dead. The story and location are fictional, yet – as the narrator stresses – the events could very well be occurring anywhere in the world, at any time.

All the performances were highly convincing, so much so that within the intimate Abbey Theatre Studio, you felt immersed within the environment of this unnamed rural locality. It is often said that great tension can be cut with a knife. With such intense passion and emotion emanating from each and every actor, you could have cut this atmosphere with a spoon.

Simon Gibson was particularly stirring as the hard-lined lieutenant, his tone of voice superbly conveying a sense of unsympathetic defiance. Margaret Metcalf held the poignantly vacant expression of a woman driven mad by grief with excellent precision throughout, while Stephanie Booth must be credited for a quality of acting unexpected in someone so young.

Allowing a narrator to describe his experiences by using a projection screen video was a smart move. Enabling a wider perspective of the events, his tale helped enforce the moral messages within the narrative, adding further dimensions to an already thought-provoking experience.

A skillful display of acting within a practically faultless production. A reputation well-deserved indeed.

Aidan Phillips

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