Yesterday (Sat 17 Sept 2011) we were fortunate to see this beautifully staged and performed production of the musical adaptation of Lorca's Bernada Alba at the Union Theatre London.
Huge added thrill for us South Africans was seeing the brilliant and so watchable Suanne Braun in action. Suanne acts and sings with such magnificent presence & ease as she joins this tight ensemble cast.
The all-women cast rise wonderfully to the challenge of Lorca's moody oppressive story of a widowed matriarch Bernada. Following the death of her husband Bernarda decides to make the lives of her oppressed daughters in the Spanish household as miserable & tragic as she finds hers.
Lovely intense performances all round and the tragedy is not without its moments of dark bitter humour as even Bernarda’s elderly mother loses her mind - Ophelia-like - to perfect black comic effect.
There’s also a brilliant moment when Suanne (seen here in dual roles) plays an uncomfortable and very unhappy to be there guest who comes to visit the House of Bernada Alba. Suanne’s precise comic talents could not be sharper as her character with hilarious spilt-second timing seizes the first opportunity to get the heck out of there when the town’s church bell rings.
All round, one remains fascinated as the daughters attempt to survive the morbid atmosphere and which they attempt to brighten as they explore the confusions & jealousies of first love and dance and sing to a very tricky and beautifully atmospheric flamenco styled score and book.
I was somehow reminded of another awful character - one from the movies - as I watched Bernada bully her brood and as she swooped and flew over her one particularly Spanish cuckoo’s nest. But in this case Bernada is so powerful and so blatant in her premeditated bitterness that she could make even Nurse Ratchet look like Mother Theresa.
Congrats to the brilliant cast and production team!