In October 1974, Justa, Lucia and Luciana, three indigenous Andean Coya sisters are found hung together. Surrounded by their slaughtered farm animals, the sisters are the last surviving family members living in a lonely and inhospitable environment in the desert region of northern Chile. Was it a ceremonial suicide? Or the theory of military involvement to remove original owners of the land?

Beasts is a fascinating and moving adaptation of the play by Juan Radrigan, Las Brutas. Exploring the loss of identity, invisibility, loneliness and extinction, Beasts is beautifully crafted and heartbreaking. Evoking the harshness of the environment the sisters struggle to survive in, each scene is incredibly powerful in its message, the often tragic relationship between modern civilisation and the loss of indigenous land and culture.

Through a simple but appropriate set design evoking the difficult harsh existence, we are taken on a journey into the life of the sisters as they compete with a modern world while trying to maintain family history and cultural identity.

Performers Samantha Urquijo-Garcia, Alejandra Marin, Natalia Nazir as the three sisters are each wonderful in their characterisations. There is a genuine rawness and authenticity to their performances that is not only incredibly powerful but beautiful in its simplicity. They are wonderful storytellers. Camilo Cortissoz as the narrator fills in the storyline but it his role as, for want of a better word, ‘the peddler’, enticing the sisters with modernity in the form of ‘city clothes’ is where his performance shines.

Director Jaime Wilson-Ramirez’s use of stillness, pace and silence is a deliberately measured convention. The atmosphere reflecting the silence, stillness, loneliness of the environment the sisters exist in.

As an audience there is the need for complete concentration to fall into the accents and rhythm of the performance, but that is one of the highlights of this production, its genuine authenticity.

Beasts is performing until September 30.

La Mama Courthouse 349 Drummond Street, Carlton

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