The House of Bernarda Alba is part of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s Rural Trilogy, all of which rebelled against the norms of contemporary Spanish society. The play is set in a small village in Spain, in the house of Bernarda Alba (if you hadn’t guessed), where she lives with her five daughters, maid Poncia, and several other servants.
The patriarch of the house is deceased, and all Bernarda’s daughters are unmarried; the oldest, Angustias, is 39, where the youngest, Adela, is 20. Their every action is monitored and restricted, their mother’s concern being that they conduct themselves as women of their class are expected to, regardless of their personal feelings or desires. When a potential suitor enters the lives of the daughters, everything rapidly disintegrates; and it wasn’t that great to begin with.
This is the first time I’ve seen Lorca’s work staged, and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. The Spanish Theatre Company’s aim is to present dramatised readings of all Lorca’s work; Bernarda is the last play he completed before he was assassinated in 1936.
The play is being performed in both Spanish and English (I went on an English night but brought a Spanish speaker with me. Just in case). I cannot fault any of the performers, the ensemble excelled. For me, the standout performance was that of Pia Laborde’s Amelia, one of Bernarda’s daughters, who delivered such a superbly natural performance as to be the scene-stealer, even when positioned at the rear of a group.
Gilly Daniels and Joanna Kate Rodgers was amazing in it.