The House of Bernarda Alba, written by Federico Garcia Lorca and celebrating its 70th anniversary this Sunday, tells a tragic story of oppression. This weekend, the intense drama comes to the PW in a powerfully unique rendition directed by Sam Keamy-Minor ’16.
Upon entering the Downspace, I was first struck by the beautiful set. Designed by Miranda Friel ’15 and Keamy-Minor, it aptly sets the tone–one of tension and priggishness–soon to permeate the play. Next, my eye focused on the stage; the daughters of Bernarda Alba were already onstage, responding to constantly-sounding church bells like puppets on a string–an ominous choice, as throughout the play they’re quite literally caged in their own home.
Bernarda, offstage, has already been assigned a tyrannical identity by the maids, who feverishly scrub the floors. La Poincia, played by Ana Marx ’18, establishes herself as a relatively unbiased third-party figure with relation to the dysfunctional household, while her assistant, played by Kathy Ng ’17, emulates the matriarch’s terrifying nature. Bernarda is finally introduced. Jaclyn Licht ’16 perfectly captures the widow’s domineering nature as well as her intense obsession with maintaining the Alba family’s social reputation.
As the play devolves into tragedy, the five daughters begin to emerge as distinct personalities. In their own ways, each exhibits her own struggle with the loneliness and brutality of life at home. Angustias (Ali Murray ’18) lives in the fantasy of life outside the walls as Pepe’s wife; Magdalena (Calvin Nickelson ’18) sleeps through the day, isolated from her sisters; Amelia (Sammie Chomsky ’18) passively follows along with her sisters; Martirio (Kate MacMullin ’15), the ugliest of the sisters, broods, lonely and unrecognized by men; finally, Adela (Marcus Sudac ’17), the youngest and prettiest of the sisters, struggles to contain her blossoming sexuality and vivaciousness.