Author Ariel Dorfman discusses the origins of ‘Purgatorio’. Posted by Leon Van Zyl on June 7, Purgatorio is a pivotal work for me. Although it takes up. Two characters – a ‘Man’ and a ‘Woman’ – are trapped in a soul-less white room. Each is interrogated in turn by the other. Each is groping for forgiveness and. Purgatorio [Ariel Dorfman] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

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A s a Chilean writer, Ariel Dorfman is understandably obsessed with revenge and forgiveness.

Having dealt with those questions in blisteringly realistic terms in Death and the Maiden, he now explores them expressionistically in Purgatorio.

But while the result displays Dorfman’s formidable dramatic intelligence, I was left pining for more circumstantial detail.

The setting is a stark, white room occupied by two characters, simply called Man and Woman. What exactly is their relationship? Since he wears a white coat and she sports neutral black, they might be analyst and patient. Gradually, however, the woman is forced to confront her past actions.


Author Ariel Dorfman discusses the origins of ‘Purgatorio’ – Baxter Theatre Centre

Above all, she has to acknowledge that, after her partner abandoned dorman to marry another woman, she murdered their two children. At which point the penny suddenly drops: Dorfman has plenty more tricks up his sleeve, and goes on to explore big issues.

Are some sins too terrible to forgive? Is mankind locked into an endless cycle of crime and punishment?

While I applaud him for raising the questions, I feel they can’t be abstracted from political reality. Dorfman says he wanted to create characters who couldn’t shed their responsibility “by blaming government or history”.

Purgatorio – Variety

That, however, strikes me as pointlessly self-denying. In Euripides’ Medea, which Dorfman constantly invokes, the heroine’s infanticide is driven by the prospect of political exile.

And in the comparable Huis Clos, Sartre gives us exact information about the hell-based characters’ pasts.

In short, the question of whether redemption can win out over revenge acquires greater focus the more precise you are: The piece is performed with visceral force in Daniele Guerra’s throat-grabbing production. Adjoa Andoh, switching between the roles of accuser and victim, runs aroel emotional gamut, and displays a breast-beating ferocity.



Patrick Baladi matches her blow for blow and, as a lost purgatorial soul, raises ironic laughs by yearning for “another stab at life”. The actors do an excellent job. But, by abstracting moral dilemmas from their political context, Dorfman dilutes his play’s metaphorical power.