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Posts Tagged ‘Ellen O’Grady’

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 – 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’s 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 (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/parade), in which case I might be contradicting myself in 4 years time. Watch this space!

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