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Theatre review: The House Of Bernarda Alba is one endless tragedy

Published on Mar 16, 2014 11:24 AM
The cast of Wild Rice's production The House Of Bernarda Alba, a classic drama by legendary Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936). -- FILE PHOTO: WILD RICE

The work of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca is often fiendishly difficult to do. Blood Wedding, another of his "rural trilogy" - of which The House Of Bernarda Alba is one - is the staple of acting students who want to showcase their emotive abilities.

Therein lies the rub. Lorca's ardent chorus of cloistered women can just as easily topple into the overwrought; his thick, sensual imagery might prompt one to over-tell, instead of show.

It is these two very problems that ensnare this production at the Drama Centre Theatre, despite a lyrical update of the text by Singapore playwright Chay Yew.

Draconian matriarch Bernarda (Claire Wong) impounds her five daughters in an eight-year period of mourning after her husband dies, and it is under this lid of oppression that her daughters' pent-up desires flood to the surface. This dysfunctional family is almost Medusean in stature, a many-headed household of embittered snakes pulling and tugging at one another as they strain against the leash.

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