Then3* is for the show; the production deserves 4*. A musical based on Lorca¡¯s intense and very Spanish tragedy was an enticing prospect. Michael John LaChiusa has created a 90 minute one-acter that¡¯s every bit as intense as the play.
We¡¯re in the home of Bernarda, her mother, five daughters and three servants shortly after the death of her husband. Three of the daughters are in love with offstage Pepe ¨C one is betrothed to him, one is having an affair with him and the third just secretly in love with him. The problem with the show (and the play, if I remember correctly) is that it takes 80% of the time to set the scene and just 20% for the tragedy to unfold. There¡¯s a lot of female latin emotion before you get to any action!
Hilary Statts has provided a highly effective design that looks and feels very much 30¡äs Spain. There¡¯s a superb central performance from Beverley Klein as haridan Bernarda and a fine ensemble in which I was particularly impressed by Ellen O¡¯Grady as housekeeper Poncia, Sophie Juge¡¯s Augustias and Amelia Adams-Pearce as Adela. There¡¯s some excellent choreography from Racky Plews and Katherine Hare¡¯s staging is fine. The band, hidden behind a bank of seats, sounded as if they were in the room next door and much of the subtlety of the strings, guitar and mandolin was lost.
The problem is, I didn¡¯t like the music and I didn¡¯t really like the show! I found myself admiring the production, the acting and the singing, but I wasn¡¯t at all involved with the story. It seems to me that if create a musical from a play, it must be for a reason; frankly, I find this adaptation a bit pointless. We have survived and could continue to survive perfectly well without a musical of Bernarda Alba and that¡¯s the crux of it. I so wish they had found a better show to display such talent. Of course, it could be another Parade (see my review of that!), in which case I might be contradicting myself in 4 years time. Watch this space! - Gareth James
07 Sep 11
Excellent, atmospheric production with a wonderful star performance by Beverley Klein.
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