That's what the 'ubiquitous they' say about revenge and they could be right, but the revenge on stage at Mosaic is anything but cold. It's caliente, caliente, caliente. And turning up the heat is Laura Turnbull as Paulina in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, the 1990 play that, set in an unnamed South American country, nails the revenge is mine credo.
Dorfman is Chilean and he could well be writing about his home country. A repressive regime, students dragged off the streets and tortured, then democracy and guilt and attempts at forgiveness.
Twenty years after her endless rapes and torture by a doctor who played Franz Schubert's Death and the Maiden while he abused her, Paulina is living in isolation on the seashore, married to ambitious lawyer Gerardo, who brings a stranger home with him one night. And of course the stranger is Roberto, her rapist from many years before. Or is he?
Feeding on Pauline's perhaps paranoia, Gerardo's reasonableness and Roberto's guilt/innocence, Dorfman screws the tension tighter and tighter over the ninety minute show. And then you get a cart load more of tighter from director Avi Hoffman and Stephen G. Anthony as Geraldo and Oscar Cheda as Roberto. Something's got to break.
You get exactly what you'd expect from these three veteran actors: Paulina's memories, fears, determination to get Roberto to confess, Geraldo's composure, disbelief, fear of ruined ambition, and Roberto's outraged innocence despite Paulina's pistol pointed at his head.
Another realistic set by Douglas Grinn completely evokes the upper class bungalow on the beach and Suzanne M. Jones' lights and Matt Corey's sound complete the picture. K. Blair Brown designed the costumes.
To my knowledge, this is the third outing for Maiden in South Florida. Quite a few years ago it was staged at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the long gone Minorca Theatre. Richard J. Simon's Mosaic has done well by the old girl. A caliente mixture, indeed.
See Death and the Maiden through April 1 at Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd, Plantation. 954-577-8243 http://mosaictheatre.com/