“The public debates with passion after seeing the work while having a few beers”

Amaranta Munana (left) and María Herrero from Murcia, in ‘La Toffana’. / JAVIER NADAL

The Murcian María Herrero directs and performs this Saturday at the Romea a judicial ‘thriller’ about the 17th century poisoner Giulia Toffana


It is not for less: the Murcian actress and stage director María Herrero, born in 1983, speaks with enthusiasm about what it has meant, both for her and for the playwright Vanessa Montfort, the approach to the figure of a seventeenth-century woman whose Personality and history leave no one indifferent, Giulia Toffana –witch? Poisoner? Justice?…–, protagonist of the play that, executive produced by Evaristo Sánchez, also from Murcia, born in 1984, arrives this Saturday at the Romea de Murcia, where it will be performed at 8:00 p.m.

‘La Toffana’ talks about a practically unknown woman, even in her country, Italy, about whom Herrero and Montfort have investigated in depth, even traveling to the Roman scenes linked to her, such as the Romans of Piazza Navona and Santa Agnes to Campo di Fiore. From the character it is known that she was the inventor of what is known as Acqua Toffana, a poison that was not just any potion, but a sought-after piece that became, nothing less, the spearhead of a seventeenth-century pyramidal network. Quite a find: three drops were enough to kill the chosen victim without, in addition, leaving evidence.


  • Construction site
    ‘La Toffana’.

  • Author
    Vanessa Montfort.

  • Direction
    Maria Herrero.

  • Executive production
    Evaristo Sanchez.

  • Where
    Romea Theatre. Murcia.

  • When
    Saturday, January 14, at 8:00 p.m. 18, 15 and 12 E

In ‘La Toffana’, a 90-minute judicial ‘thriller’, three actresses –Victoria Teijeiro, Amaranta Munana and María Herrero herself– and the actor Aitor de Kintana tell a story that, among many others, raises questions such as: Can a psychopath be born from mistreatment? A vigilante superheroine or the creator of the embryo of the Sicilian mafia in the 17th century?

“Regardless of the motive or ‘principles’ that led Giulia Toffana to confess to having been, perhaps, the first case of a female serial-killer that we know of, poisoning 600 men with her formula,” says Montfort, “which makes her Exceptional is that she dared to carry out this undertaking at a particularly reactionary time for women, that her possible psychopathy arose from the mistreatment suffered by her own mother, and that her motive, at least at first, was to offer other women the chance to free themselves. of cruel and unwanted marriages.

And the playwright adds: “What is evident is that her extreme intelligence led her to perfect a poison inherited from her mother, as untraceable as the distribution network she managed to create in the Rome of the Popes.” María Herrero shares with the author of the work that «Giulia Toffana therefore has all the ingredients of a Shakespearean protagonist, only that she is a woman: political intrigues, murders, revenge, family secrets, betrayals and power struggles. Three generations of women who learn to kill to protect her lineage ».

«We are delighted with the reaction of the public», says Herrero, «because this production generates a lot of debate over a few beers, after seeing it, and that is very interesting». “This woman’s story is very powerful, a story that could perfectly make a series for Netflix.”

«Directing and interpreting ‘La Toffana has been crazy», he acknowledges, «but I was able to do it because I have a great team behind me that is very powerful». A team that also includes Karmen Abarca (scenography and costumes), Lola Barroso (lighting) and María Díaz (communication).

«I have always thought that what characterizes a great theatrical character are its contradictions, that when we illuminate it, parts always remain in shadow. Also that generates controversy and debate. ‘To write a monster you have to understand it’, said my admired Fernando Marías. And that does not imply judging or justifying it, ”reflects Vanessa Montfort.

“The public debates with passion after seeing the work while having a few beers”