Death row in America. Men sit in isolated dungeons awaiting execution. An investigator works tirelessly to save them. She will not let men go to their deaths without a fight.
Rene Denfeld’s disturbing and poetic novel comes to life through performance, puppetry, choreography and sound in this striking adaptation examining themes of evil, punishment, clemency and redemption. This journey through the eyes of the condemned seeps deep into our consciousness – are monsters really born or do we create them?
Pharmacy Theatre comment, Now more than ever, the exploration of these concepts needs to be discussed with wider audiences. By sharing Rene Denfeld’s story, we hope to illustrate, and provoke discussion about, the parallel failings of justice systems in America and the UK. This run will allow us to ask questions and inspire solutions for the way forward.
This spellbinding story will refuse to let you go. It is a play with a message to tell about the treatment of human beings and the possibilities of redemption, and it delivers this with skill (Broadway Baby).
Rene Denfeld is a bestselling American author from Portland, Oregon. She is the winner of the French Prix, ALA Medal for Excellence and a Carnegie Listing. She also works as a death penalty investigator and is active in prison reform.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Jade. Tell me about the piece and your character.
The Enchanted is about death row in the US and the role of nature and nurture in creating the people on it, but it’s also about the beauty and pain of human existence and the stories we create to face it. My character, The Lady, is an investigator whose job is to find out why the people we call monsters became who they are.
What was your initial impression of the script?
Relief! The focus on nature and the sounds and shapes of conversations and the magic you experience by being alive was not at all what I had expected from a script about death row and was a pleasant surprise!
Was it easy to translate from page to stage?
The script does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of the original novel and I think the use of movement was really key in translating how much of The Enchanted is about the place just beyond human reality. The slight downside of having the book to work from was my desire to try and convey every single thought and motive that was detailed so beautifully by Rene Denfeld!
Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?
I watched a great talk by Rene Denfeld about the art and importance of empathetic listening and I really wanted to highlight The Lady’s gift for listening to pretty terrible truths with such an open mind and heart.
How does The Bunker lend itself to the piece?
Well most of the play is set in an underground prison so an underground theatre couldn’t be more perfect!
What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?
I just think it’s a fascinating and important subject matter. The nature versus nurture question is always a great conversation starter and I think The Enchanted adds something to that conversation. Also, great book, great script, great cast!
Thank you Jade, wishing you all the best with the run!
Photo Credit: Paul Gilling