by Federico Garcia Lorca new adaptation by Tommy Murphy from a literal translation by Rosanna Lowe.
Royal & Derngate (Royal auditorium) Guildhall Street NN1 1DP In rep to 30 June 2012.
7.45pm 5, 9, 13-15, 18, 19, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29 June.
3pm 7, 16, 21, 30 June.
Audio-described 13 June.
BSL Signed 14 June.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
Tickets: 01604 624811.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 1 June.
Lorca in a modern setting retains the contrast of blood and wedding.
Of the two battles between social order and passionate desire in Northampton’s opening ‘Festival of Chaos’ repertoire, The Bacchae, being played at the local newspaper’s old printworks, somewhat unevenly pits a mere king against a semi-divinity. Meanwhile, back at the theatre, things are more evenly matched in Lorca’s poetic drama, based on a news incident.
Where possible, actors have been cast in complementary roles. Ery Nzaramba moves between creators of disorder, Dionysus and Leonardo, who runs off with Seline Hizli’s Bride. Her respectable, abandoned Groom is Liam Bergin, the straight-mannered King Pentheus, Dionysus’s victim.
Some of the equivalences are suggestive rather than direct. Kathryn Pogson’s Mother mirrors her role as Pentheus’ mother Agave, but whereas one destroys her child, Lorca’s Mother seeks to save him against her forebodings about the Felix family who have already stabbed one of her sons, and to which Leonardo belongs.
Updating the action to modern Spain might work against the poetic element, a tendency reinforced by relocating Lorca’s shift into nature symbolism to a hospital admissions department.
Yet there’s a fitting cold abstraction to the hospital, its formulaic ways somehow corresponding to the eeriness of Lorca’s Moon and Death, while recalling the alienated stage-world of Botho Strauss. And the shifting of the Groom’s family into what the accents suggest is the northern realism of a Bill Naughton, makes for a further estrangement as doors open and solid walls become skeletal, with nature increasingly showing through. Also, Robert Benfield’s cross-sex, cross-age Girl adds a sense of disturbance throughout.
By the time the Bride and Groom’s families meet, tensions in the air in class terms neatly shown by Pogson and Jim Bywater, let alone by the wedding, natural passions are visibly reflected as the walls of society thin. No wonder Hizli’s Bride wants to hurry into a marriage she does not want; she knows what she does want will bring trouble.
Laurie Sansom’s production doesn’t quite reach the final complexity of theatrical expression and energy. But it reveals much about the play, removing unnecessary Spanish colouring, making the passionate clashes very much matters for here and now.
The Girl: Robert Benfield.
The Groom: Liam Bergin.
The Mother-in-Law: Donna Berlin.
The Father: Jim Bywater.
The Cousin: Philip Cairns.
The Weeding-Singer/The Receptionist: Alicia Davies.
The Neighbour/The Maid: Rosie Ede.
The Bride: Seline Hizli.
Leonardo: Ery Nzaramba.
The Mother: Kathryn Pogson.
The Wife: Amanda Wilkin.
Flower Girls: Robyn Wilson, Jessica Slinn, Miranda Spencer-Pearson, Izzy Elias.
Director: Laurie Sansom.
Designer: Oliver Townsend.
Lighting: Philip Gladwell.
Sound: Christopher Shutt.
Composer: Dougal Irvine.
Musical director: Thomas J Indge.
Film: Scott Radnor.
Choreographer/Associate director: Neil Bettles.
Assistant director: Helen Barnett.