A Thousand Murdered Girls

Written and produced by Darren Guy
Director Mikyla Durkin
Unity Theatre
4th - 6th July 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

On arrival at the theatre the usual bubbly atmosphere of anticipation was missing; in the auditorium it was the same. Subdued chatter and a sense of foreboding gave way to the dimmed lights and an unrelieved nightmare was about to begin. Researched, written and produced by Darren Guy and directed by Mikyla Durkin the play began with Greek traditional song, re-inforced with grainy black and white images of women and young girls drawn from working class suburbs or rugged rural mountain villages.

Greece is a country now under the Nazi yoke and the dialogue begins with a gaggle of young girls eager to join the resistance against fascist domination and control. We learn that a swelling movement of freedom fighters grows apace, women on all fronts joining the men as equals in the struggle against tyranny: they need to; 80,000 children have starved to death and 70,000 Jews and others have been sent to concentration camps.

What also comes across is a sense of an enemy within - the Nazi apologists and sympathisers; collaborators in the oppression of their peers. The men in the cast will seldom play more miserable roles, (later as broken soldiers), but reduced for now to rounding up and corralling dissident females, as a foretaste of what is to come.

The minimalist stage needed few props and the baleful searchlight isolating unfortunates pouring out heart-rending tales of abuse, was the only accompaniment to a procession of emotionally delivered poems, song and factual accounts (not always word perfect), of the travesty of what happens in war.

Thankfully by 1944 the Germans had had enough and an interim British Army administration started trying to bring an embittered and splintered country together. Very dark clouds were on the horizon as the interval lights went up.

It's 1949 and Part Two opened to a beautiful imagined colour backdrop of a desolate island, Trikeri; a voice-over hints about hundreds of years of peace and tranquility, a place for a perfect holiday. Maybe, maybe not - it depends on who you are. Meanwhile a British and US brokered solution had won the day. All sides were brought to the table and a new 'Democratic' government installed. National Interest had been assured. But who's?

A litany of regret, shame and disgust now enjoined the impassioned monologues on stage. Why? The keys of power and means of reconciliation had been delivered back to the fascist collaborators, who, with the weight of the State and Church behind them set about the task of retribution against those who had taken on the Nazis.

Anyway, Trikeri is turned into a hell-hole detention complex for women who have declined to recant their anti-fascist values. Until 1953 they will be incarcerated with their children and treated as less than human, many, (as the title implies), being brutally murdered after extreme torture. The most harrowing of dispositions gave more than a hint of what went on, as the most resolute held out through willpower, respect, companionship and love for their comrades and children, against an Inquisition for the 20th Century.

How do we know? The women left diaries as a testament to what befell them. Hidden in an olive tree stump and retrieved years later on a 'holiday' to Trikeri the truth was finally outed, a sort of Dead Sea Scrolls for our times - an outrage that would have gone unnoticed in a western world supposedly at peace with itself again.

Traumatic as events had been, the whole cast was warmly applauded after a draining couple of hours of twitching bums, cringing and grimaces; for a few it had been too much to bear as a few empty seats greeted the second half.

For the majority who stayed to the end though, the sense of effrontery and solidarity with those who had endured the real horror was palpable. It would be churlish to pick and choose between cast members, but the roles of the women in portraying such steadfastness under heavy psychological and emotional strain must be mentioned.

There can never be any justice for these crimes now - a general amnesty was declared in 1974. As the far right regroups across Europe once again, will we ever learn?

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Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by Colin Serjent on 15th July, 2013 at 16:42
Writer and producer of the play, Darren Guy, pointed out that women and young girls were drawn from the concentration camp in Trikeri in Greece (first paragraph) He also said that 300,000 children were sentenced to death, not 80,000 (second paragraph).

Comment left by Darren Guy on 18th July, 2013 at 12:39
Sorry. Need to clarify again. the photos at the beginning an this was mentioned in the intro to the film. Were from women from concentration camo of Trikeri. Very very rare photos by the way. 300, 000 died in the famine, in Athens alone. 80,000 killed in the first months of the British arming the nazi. collaborators. And no mention in the article about what the women were fighting for.

Comment left by Darren on 29th August, 2013 at 16:50
Some more comments I got last night and this morning to add to the rest
'stunned at how great it was' Tracey
'The play was a triumph, I have huge respect for your intergrity' Minna
'I thought the play last year was brilliant but this was even better' Teresa
'That was such a brilliant play, I am so thrilled you invited me to film it' Andre
"that was brilliant' Izzy the tec woman
' I had tears streaming down my face, from the beginning' Ged
It is rare for a play to be so enthralling, capturing totally the audience’s attention, one where the narration of the script is more like a documentary, presented by some of the most startling performances by the women in the cast, in which the words that were saved in diaries by all that were imprisoned on what is now absurdly a beautiful holiday resort, spell out the exact nature of revenge given out by the far right to the brave Greek women that formed the resistance against Fascism.
Audience comments over the last two nights
'for two hours i was on the edge of my seat' Taher
'I felt my heart at one point and it was beating so fast, i was completely enthralled' Mike
'congratulations for tonite all the hard work and endeover paid off i really enjoyed the perfomance' Steve
'Saw this last night. All the cast were excellent. Very powerful and moving play. Go and see it if you haven't already! ' Eleanor -Very very moving - the real life words & deeds of Greek women, often very young, who fought Nazis, fought the post-war fascist government, MARIA
I have found new heroines.50% of the fighters in the post war Greek Civil War were women.British soldiers tried to defeat them.Some were still in concentration camps at the fall of the generals. Felicity
It is only on two more days - GO. Powerful, heartbreaking. Inspirational WELL DONE EVERYONE INVOLVED . Gail
That is quite a piece of writing. I did not know this story. And for them actors to convey it just BRILLIANT
Moving, powerful, an evocation of a hidden / forgotten piece of European history. Carolyne