When Margaret Thatcher died earlier this year, the Conservative press was dumbfounded that anybody could be jubilant at her passing. Sitting in a cold room, listening to Fermín Cabal’s Tejas Verdes should be enough to enlighten them. The play is a collection of seven monologues told from the perspectives of those involved in human rights abuses under the Pinochet regime, from victim to apologist.
There really isn’t much to this staging; just actor (Madeleine Potter), words and that is enough. The first speech is that of The Disappeared, who was tortured in the music hall of a former holiday resort known as Tejas Verdes (Green Gables). Colorina – one of 40,000 – describes in graphic detail the acts carried out on her body. Potter delivers these lines with a quiet resignation making sure the words are listened to and heard. Her voice rankles in the heart as one is left to contemplate the abject suffering inflicted, while the conceitedness of the lawyer defending the General is enough to rile anyone’s sense of righteousness. And for a British audience knowing their former head of state thanked Pinochet for “bringing democracy to Chile”, it’s no surprise her death was celebrated.