La Casa de Bernarda Alba / The House of Bernarda Alba, a play by Federico Garcia Lorca – Theatre Review

 

Introduction

The Cervantes Theatre is dedicated to bringing London Spanish plays and is one of the better places to find an all Spanish production. La Casa de Bernarda Alba is one such production. The play, by Federico García Lorca is perhaps one of his best. Made before his unfortunate untimely death, the play centres around a family in mourning, a family under strict control. Left in the heat and having only an all female cast and forever feeling that dominant male presence. It’s a powerful play exploring many themes and is a huge part of Spanish culture. The Cervantes Theatre is putting on a version from 3rd February to 29th before touring in a few places throughout England before finishing its run on March 24th.

 

The Performances

Catching it in London, the cast have a powerful presence on stage. There’s an intensity that is immediately apparent, each actress is able to use actions deliberately and meaningfully. Controlling their lines actions and the silence masterfully. The way they feed off each other builds this intensity, allowing you to feel comfortable with the cast and propels the narrative forward. There is a sense of their conflict by the merest stance, the distance, a look. The acting in this play is so on point that it really pushes the dialogue. A script that was powerful enough to begin with. Feeling a sense of their unease as it all starts exploding in front of you, slowly but surely. Each character buckles under the apparent pressure.

 

Set, Tech and Dread

For a play like this there is a lot of constant dread and the atmosphere is one of the biggest highlights. Helping this is the sense of the other, characters refer to characters that aren’t ever seen, whilst sound design also solidifies this idea. Though thematic, some of the sounds used are at odds with the theme and setting of the play. For example, what sounds like oriental throat singing is used as a deep oppressive presence within the play. However, this isn’t exactly the best suited for 1930s and in the south of Spain. Whilst the set design works a lot better for the play. There is a sense of a dusty home, deep in Spain. It’s well kept but still old with fragile touch to the furniture and walls. The focus on sewing machine as part of the labour further distorts the idea of a home into a place of labour, makes a perfect comment on the difficulty of living in such a home.

 

Conclusion

Albeit with a few complications, this production is a superb piece of theatre. The acting played with such intensity that its weighing down on you just like the plot does. It becomes almost difficult to watch. It is really the acting that should be observed, each character will either build sympathy or hate, which builds that tension as thick as the tension in a rope with a tonne of bricks on the end. Inevitably, it always feels like it’s about to snap.

 

Synopsis

After the death of the head of the house, the family go into mourning for 8 years where they are unable to leave the house.

 

Further Reading

Cervantes Theatre

La Casa de Bernarda Alba at Cervantes

A Trailer for the Play

Lorca Foundation

London Theatre Review

Everything Theatre Review

Whats on Stage Review

Theatre Reviewed

La Casa de Bernarda Alba / The House of Bernarda Alba (a. Federico García Lorca Spain 1936)

 



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