The Play Company presents the U.S. premiere of this drama about three women charged with deciding the future of Villa Grimaldi, an infamous Chilean detention camp. More…
During the Pinochet regime in Chile, thousands of detainees were brought to Villa Grimaldi. Some were tortured, others disappeared. When the local citizens’ committee is unable to agree on a plan for the future of these blood-soaked facilities, three women are sequestered in a room and tasked with making the decision. They gather around an architectural model of the estate to debate its ideal adaptation and grapple with a nation’s unwanted legacy. Should it have a new life or remain a memorial to the crimes committed there?
'Villa' is three things simultaneously: a photorealistic comedy about decision by committee, a bolder 'No Exit' and an anguished scream. In the first case, the three women under Calderón's direction are all marvelous naturalistic performers; they find comic grace notes even in tiny things...For me, the shock came when the play and the reality came crashing finally together...I realized that despite the brutal content, I had been enjoying myself at the theater, delighted by Calderón's craft." Full Review
"Absurd, tantalizing and chilling...The three vibrant actresses in it, Crystal Finn, Vivia Font and Harmony Stempel, are a dynamic team who mine all of the comedy and dramatic depth of their characters with commanding flair...Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón constructs a simple, engrossing and often funny scenario...Calderón also directed and his staging is slyly subtle...'Villa,' with its serious concerns, vividly proves true the adage that comedy is tragedy plus time." Full Review
“A smart, ironic drama…This combination — gruesome humor paired with deep insight — is what Calderón does best. The women's hypothetical visions raise unanswerable questions about whether trauma can ever be responsibly remembered, or really forgotten. They forge reality and fantasy into theatrical richness — a deeper kind than the play's ultimate moment of truth, when we learn why these particular women were chosen for such a momentous task.” Full Review
"The excellent trio of actresses put heart and soul into making us feel the enormity of their task...Still, where the play will connect with audiences in its US run is through its writing–Calderón’s flashes of absurdity, irony and wit–more than through its problem of historical memory and national reconciliation...A shrewd, engaged play in a passionate production...'Villa' is a subtle work of political theater by an exciting contemporary voice...The play is a knockout, and indeed memorable." Full Review
"Gregory's translation is a gem...Finn, Font, and Stemple are an incredibly talented, balanced, generous cast...They breathe life into this already excellent work...'Villa' glimmers with the wild, unspoken desperation of people healing like their lives depend on it. No one knows at any given moment whether they're getting nowhere or somewhere in that healing process...'Villa' shares that devastating confusion with its audience impeccably. It is greater than the sum of its parts." Full Review
"The script is an exceptionally eloquent statement about the ripple effects of dictatorship, how such ghastly abuses of power reverberate long after they have ended. The author, who also directed, has elicited three furious, yet tightly contained, performances...All three actresses play off each other so seamlessly that they essentially constitute a single performance—taut, probing, and riddled with barely suppressed anguish." Full Review
"'Villa' could be fantastically depressing. Sometimes it is. But the three actresses give energetic, unfussy performances and get good comedic mileage out of the awfulness of committee work...Mr. Calderón owes a debt to absurdism, which can sometimes make his material seem abstract rather than urgent. But he can’t forget that real people were tortured in the villa. Neither can the women. Neither can we. Their problem of what to do with this site becomes our problem, too." Full Review
“‘Villa’ moves in the direction of being a great and profound work...Calderón’s language is vivid, poetic, ironic and intelligent. However, Calderón is less skilled as a director, and the play lacks the physicality needed to give the actors any weight…We don’t know anything about them, and the words are not connected in any meaningful way to time, place, or to an emotional or relational interior...The play admirably wrestles with the bigger idea of how to memorialize a tragedy.” Full Review
See it if you want to see excellent acting and writing (by a playwright who is building an international reputation for innovation and excellence).
Don't see it if you prefer plays that are not political and not surreal.
See it if you want to see three amazing actresses pour their souls into a play. You want clever writing that handles trauma and tragedy with aplomb.
Don't see it if you're not into absurdism. The characters talk themselves in circles for most of the play. You're not up for something gut-wrenching.
See it if Part theater, part performance art. Intentionally confusing, then clarity arrives with a big revelation. Makes a powerful point.
Don't see it if You don't like being "played" for artistic impact. You prefer a more traditional narrative.
Also PlayCo got me with "Caught" and now they've done it again!
See it if You're interested in seeing an intense psychological drama that asks the question, how do we as a society memorialize our tragedies?
Don't see it if You need everything spelled out cleanly, you want a light and happy event, or you will be triggered by discussions of sexual assault.
See it if Great acting and great dialougue, but this play is confusing in parts and very political.
Don't see it if You don't like political plays . Especially about the abusive regimes in South America during the ruling of dictators.
See it if You like political theater with a contemporary human rights message.
Don't see it if You are not looking for thought-provoking theater.
Also Surprisingly funny and deeply compelling! The ending is so haunting.
See it if you like your Off B'way theater to be more thought-provoking than celeb-filled; you like strong female roles on stage; you are Chilean.
Don't see it if you don't do well with loud noises in confined areas; you are wholly incapable of identifying with other people's traumas.
See it if you like stories that gradually unravel, if you like to listen intently to what you're watching, and if you like politically-driven work.
Don't see it if you're momentarily trying to escape the political climate, or if you're more into work that doesn't dig so deep.
See it if You are interested in a " play " that deals with the aftermath of government brutality. The three characters' ferocious struggle is riveting
Don't see it if a political play is not on your wish list. The subject is definitely intense and the writing can be ( at first ) confusing.
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