Theatre: House of Bernada Alba

Caught on Monday the National Theatre The House of Bernarda Alba - my second Lorca play in a week (although this one didn't have any Mexican male movie stars)... Actually it was an all women play with the translation by David Hare. It reminded me of "The Women" without the gowns. I was half expecting the line "Chin up, both of em" amongst all the bitchy banter. It didn't come, but there were plenty of talk about class, positions and deadly obsessions.

During one of the intermissions one woman quipped to another, "Oh it's good that Garry didn't come, it's such a woman's show" which is a pity as there is a very exciting passionate and (possibly Spanish) story amongst the banter. Penelope Winton plays the title character who rules a household of women with an iron fist (and occasionally a strap or a whip). There is high drama and the set consisting of a Spanish villa was quite impressive (and imposing from the front row). No story such as this couldn't finish without a bit of tragedy of course, but on the way it was a fascinating time. I wondered what the original must be like. In Spanish it must be pure explosive. The English women were fantastic but at times it was a bit of a sensible play for something that I felt was far more emotional and manic. In some ways with the pristine over-produced set and the smart costuming it was more of an embalming of the text rather than a production, but that's the National for you...

Incidentally there were men at the theatre (other than me), but most seemed to be gay. It must be a Frederico Garcí­a Lorca following... Shortly after he completed this play he was shot by Franco's sympathisers so you have to wonder what might have otherwise been...

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