I PROFOUNDLY disagree with translator Jo Clifford, who says in the programme notes, Benarda Alba deserves our sympathy an respect.
She rules her daughters, who are full of life and aching for romance, with a ro of iron, imposing an eight year period of mourning on thehousehold after her second husband dies.
Even the most feminine of pursuits, the wearing of lipstick, suddenly becomes a crime and incurs the old woman's merciless wrath. The play was born out of the decade that saw the rise ofFascism in writer Lorca's native Spain and Bernarda'sbrutally repressive behaviour feels like a foretaste of the repression living under a dictatorship brings with it.
That may sound very heavy, but this is an accessible play ad not remotely elitist. And it does enough to make you want Bernarda's downtrodden daughters to break way and defy the old dragon. There are rumblings of rebellion when Adela, the youngest of the brood, breaks her mother's cane.
A joint production between the RET ad Graeae Theatre Company, a company made up of actors with disabilities, this is an invigorating and evocative if at times cheerless evening of theatre. The fact that Graeae - pronounced grey eye - is made up of disabled people is irrelevant. Here we have a company with a formidable artistic reputation that deserves to be judged solely on that.
Jenny Sealey's production has both atmosphere and feeling and there are some fine performances, particularly from Kathryn Hunter as Bernarda.
* Until February 25. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ***