The House of Bernarda Alba
Rona Munro's reimagining of Federico Garcia Lorca's all-female ensemble piece, blinging neon, dripping in credit, is the sort of glossy, hard-edged melodrama River City dreams of being
After the gangland execution of her husband, Siobhan Redmond’s magnificent, vicious Bernie Alba keeps her doped-up, French manicured daughters virtual prisoners on her cream leather sofa suite. The increasingly frenzied pitch of their lusts and struggles for lives outside the house is tempered by a script that marries Lorca’s lyricism with vinegar-sharp banter.
It’s a lengthy play, and few of the scenes do feel very similar, as the four strongest characters – Bernie, Myra MacFayden’s truth-telling family retainer, Louise Ludgate’s splendidly bitter, wasted Marty and Vanessa Johnson’s hopeful innocent Adie – each cling to one motivation that they express repeatedly. There’s also a rather criminal waste of two very talented actors in Jo Freer and Carmen Pieraccini as the remaining sisters: had Munro determined to be less faithful to her source text, these roles could have been easily condensed into one and developed more.
However, ultimately, Munro and director John Tiffany have created a world that rings true and hits hard.
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 3 Oct, then touring