The House of Bernarda Alba

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In this adaptation of Lorca's last play, the matriarchal edict proclaimed by Bernarda on her husband's death condemns her five unmarried daughters to an aeon in black behind the locked doors of an all-female household. The one male to get a look in is glimpsed in shadows, keeping minight trysts through barred windows; planned for the eldest daughter, he loves the youngest, stoking the flames of jealous rivalry until the whole pressurised can of blocked emotions blows apart. Camus' forte lies in his precise delineation of period detail and buttoned-up behaviour, and he makes palpable the savage destructiveness of Franco's dictatorship - here in its birth throes but rooted, as Lorca tried to show, in the restricted social and sexual codes of Spanish society. The performances play on one unrelenting note - fever-pitched misery - though the whole cast admirably sustains the intensity throughout. Camus rarely opens the drama out, but neither does he achieve the cathartic rush demanded by Lorca's denouement. The result is cold, and a little tiresome.

By: WH

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Cast and crew

Director: Mario Camus
Screenwriter: Mario Camus, Antonio Larreta
Cast: Irene Gutiérrez Caba
Ana Belén
Florinda Chico
Enriqueta Carballeira
Vicky Peña
Aurora Pastor
Mercedes Lezcano