The Consumption of Control
Control is a double-edged sword, dear hedonists. On the one hand, it gives one comfort – even a sense of superiority. On the other, it can become an addiction – an obsession that can consume not only the controller, but those near as well.
Enter The House of Bernarda Alba, a play by Spanish writer, poet, dramatist, and theatre director Federico García Lorca, who died by assassination in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, only two months after he had written this play. Currently playing at The Ballard Underground Theatre, adapted in English by Emily Mann, directed by Charles Waxberg and Roy Arauz and put on by Arouet, the focus of this play is control and how it is wielded (and abused) by a domineering mother and those who live there: her elderly mother (María Josefa, played beautifully by Frances Hearn), her five daughters – Angustias (39 years old), Magdalena (30 years old), Amelia (27 years old), Martirio (24 years old), and Adela (20 years old) – and her servants.
Set in a Spanish village in a home in Andalusia, this household is in mourning at the loss of the husband and father. The mother, Bernarda Alba, aged 60 years of age and brilliantly played by Ruth McRee (Mme. Pernelle in Taproot Theatre’s Tartuffe), decrees an 8-year mourning period and denies her daughters any joy or outside relations, particularly of the romantic variety.
What results is a very dysfunctional, disheartened, and sexually deprived household – a combination that can only lead to tragedy (and does).
Your Hedonista recently accepted a media invitation to attend this play. (I got to sit front and center – literally – on the comfy couches that the theatre currently has, but may be getting rid of … such a shame if they do!) In it, all characters are heart-wrenchingly portrayed with an intensity and sorrow that makes you shake your head, if not shed a tear or two.
The House of Bernarda Alba has only three performances left in its run, which is May 4th to 19th, 2012. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. shows on May 17th, 18th, and 19th, which range in price from $10-$50, are available through Brown Paper Tickets.