Political theatre is hard. Perhaps of all the genres of theatre the most difficult to produce without sounding like propaganda. Imago has taken the challenge and produced a Intractable Woman by Stefano Massini and Directed by Micheline Chevrier which is riveting and informative. On a minimal set with raked platforms beautifully created by Eo Sharp, the cast of three outstanding actors evokes the horrors lived in and reported on by Anna Politkovskaya. The Russian journalist who was first harassed then poisoned and finally shot dead for her unrelenting reporting of the war in Chechnya.
The playwright has created layers of monologues and short emphatic dialogue to tell the riveting tale of the horrors of this endless war, evoking in each small, finely crafted scene what it might have been like to see smell hear and finally feel this conflict.
The overriding theme of this work is state censorship and the cynics that it makes of us all. As contemporary events push us further and further along a path of omission and “alternate truths,” this work is a beacon, warning us all to act and to act soon against the tyranny which is advancing towards us.
The performers, Laura Condlln, Warona Setshwaelo, and Deena Aziz Aziz, were extraordinary in their ability to deliver a text replete with horrors and yet give it poetic cadences. Some of the phrases stick in the mind long after the resounding applause: “snow… blood… snow… blood… snow…” Director Chevrier was inspired in the use of choral moments and perfect blocking and movement.
I was hired in the 1980s by CBC to do research on Argentinian refugees to Canada who had experienced the clandestine prisons of the dictator in their homeland. I spoke no Spanish back then but I found a translator who was herself a survivor of the torture in Argentina. We found six people to interview.
Then the CBC informed me that the show, FYI, was going to target a family audience and my research was too dark for their purposes. I found out soon afterwards that Canada was selling Candu Nuclear Reactors to the dictator. The CBC was warned “not to rock the boat.”
Censorship exists everywhere, but not nearly on the scale practiced in Russia. The current political climate in the USA makes one wish the government to the south could see this play.
Intractable Woman is political theatre at its best, informative without being exhortative, tragic without sentimentality and brilliantly mounted. And it is PWYC!! Imago Theatre has a policy of asking the audience to “pay what you can” after seeing the work.
I recommend that you brave the February Freeze and head for the Centaur.
Intractable Woman is at the Centaur Theatre until February 18. Tickets and times can be found HERE.