3 stars ***
Just Festival at St. John’s (Venue 127)
There’s an admirable intensity and complexity about Firmin Cabal’s monologue Tejas Verdes, which takes its title from a notorious military base near the Chilean capital Santiago where left-wing suspects were held and tortured following the military coup in 1973. Over an hour, in front of a screen showing subtle images of the building, the single speaker takes on a series of identies, all looking back at the act of torture from different angles. There’s the disappeared woman, her friend, a military doctor, a gravedigger, an informer, a lawyer defending the torturers, and a soul in torment, waiting for release; and as we begin to realise that the friend and the informer are the same person, the sheer horror of torture, and way it destroys morality and personality, becomes ever clearer to us.
In truth, though, this is a story that has often been told, 40 years on. And although Madeleine Potter gives it a heartfelt and highly emotional performance, at the Just Festival at St. John’s, I was left with a slight feeling that emotion is no longer enough; and that somewhere in this text there is a snap and drive of political and psychological analysis that needs a rawer voice, and a tougher, less yielding performance style.