The House of Bernarda Alba | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The House of Bernarda Alba 

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Ignoring Spain's century-long literary golden age, Circle Theatre bills Federico Garcia Lorca's 1936 play, about a bitter Andalusian woman who wants to keep her adult daughters spinsters, as "the greatest Spanish tragedy of all time." Likewise, director Kristin Gehring ignores the script's poetic imagery and folkloric hyperbole to interpret the play as psychological realism. A less hesitant, self-conscious cast might have strengthened her case, but as it stands Lorca's tale is unconvincing. Maggie Speer's Bernarda is a lumbering mass of indiscriminate unpleasantness without a specific history to render her human. Her five daughters are in five different plays. Only Bob Knuth's stark white set conveys some of Lorca's lyricism. Through 5/7: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park, 708-771-0700, $21-$23.

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