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National Theatre Trip to see La Casa de Bernarda Alba

Published on 15/03/24

A group of Spanish and Drama students went to the National Theatre to see Alice Birch’s modern take on the 1930s Spanish play La Casa de Bernarda Alba.

Originally set in Franco’s Fascist Spain, this new interpretation of the script intends to highlight the feminist messages of the original and warn of the dangers of oppression. The timelessness and significance of the play was made obvious by the performance, but was a challenging modern interpretation. The daughters swear and rebel constantly, and are too free. This slightly lessened the impact of the climactic finale, where the youngest daughter rebels against Bernarda and kills herself as a final act. Bernarda also seems a bit too oblivious of her daughter's actions, and too soft to appear as the overpowering matriarch the play wants to present her as. It was interesting to see both the parts of the play done very well, and the parts that could be improved, as it helped our understanding of the text and how different interpretations can alter the messaging of the piece.

The set involved a multi-tier model of the house with all the rooms in view at once, making it feel alive and like an actual house as maids flitted about tidying up and the sisters got on with their daily life in their rooms. At times multiple scenes happened concurrently.

The acting on display was impressive and it was easy to tell that the choreography and general directing was well rehearsed and performed with accuracy. The characters were adapted slightly from the book which we have studied as part of our A Level course, making the play engaging and interesting to watch.

We then visited a Spanish restaurant called ‘La Gamba’. La Gamba was the perfect finish to the evening with its authentic Spanish desserts which were accompanied by swift service from the staff. The cinnamon churros with Spanish hot chocolate and basque cheesecake lightened the mood after the intense end to the play and made for a good experience of Spanish cuisine.