The House of Bernada Alba at the ANU Arts Centre – A review

johnboy 26 February 2009 3

Earlier in the month we posted a note on a production of “The House of Bernada Alba” by Federico García Lorca.

Tonight I went along to opening night and was blasted out of the theatre by the all woman cast.

It’s a dark, at times horrific journey, and hours after the show my heart’s still hammering and my breathing is shallow. I’m probably going to have nightmares.

Leonard Cohen fans should note that he was in turn a huge fan of Lorca, having a hit with a translation of one of the author’s poems. Get along and see this and you can declare yourself an instant expert at dinner parties.

It’s a depiction of the hideously repressive pre-revolutionary society of Spain. It speaks volumes that when the tortuous social pressures displayed in the play erupted into the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Lorca was murdered by the fascists.

This is a big dark work. If someone tried to write the same setting as science fiction they’d be dismissed as absurdly bleak. But it bites because it’s all too real.

It builds banality upon banality to draw the audience into belief while the personal conflicts rage to a crescendo. At one point when one of the characters was nearing an exit to the theatre I was screaming in my head “Go, Just Go, Get out, Run and get clear”.

Ruth McHugh-Dillon particularly shines in an utterly luminescent performance as Adela.

It’s not laugh-a-minute, you won’t come out whistling a happy tune.

But it will make you feel and make you think.

Details on how to book and show times are in the original note.

UPDATED: I should note that watching this play has changed my mind about the Spanish Civil War. I used to regard Franco as the lesser of two evils in that conflict. But now I realise why the supporters of the Communists had no choice but to fight. Which, considering the history of the play (the last of Lorca’s works before he was murdered never having seen it produced) is exactly its intention. Bravo for a work that never makes any direct mention of these issues.

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3 Responses to The House of Bernada Alba at the ANU Arts Centre – A review
ramblingted ramblingted 1:13 pm 26 Feb 09

I’m waiting for Passy to declare it ideologically correct..

sepi sepi 10:02 am 26 Feb 09

brilliant review. sounds bleak.

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 9:15 am 26 Feb 09

They say that the greatest tragedy of the Spanish Civil War was that Garcia Lorca died and Hemmingway survived… I’m a big fan of both though.

The Spanish Civil war is a facinating subject that is all too often ignored. It was the first true ideological war of the last century, Fascist vs Communist. The UK maintained an interesting position throughout, with the UK Govt officially supporting Franco but large numbers of UK citizens fighting for Azana on the red team.

The play sounds interesting, I might try to drag mrs Neanderthalsis along.

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