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      The House of Bernarda Alba
    Daughter house five

    Five desperate daughters struggle under their mother's domination as an all-Asian cast brings new energy to Frederico Garcia Lorca's "The House of Bernarda Alba."


    In one of the most perfect productions of the year, the Spanish classic "The House of Bernarda Alba" by Frederico Garcia Lorca is presented with an all-Asian cast of 23 actresses by the National Asian American Theatre Co.

    Simply staged, director Chay Yew's new adaptation infuses an energetic roughness into this traditional piece. The recently widowed Bernarda Alba, in a fierce portrayal by Obie Award winner Ching Valdes-Aran demands strict obedience from her five love-starved daughters. She insists they wear black and mourn for eight years. The oldest and homeliest daughter, Angustias, played with comic ingenuity by Natsuko Ohama, is the only one to inherit any money and thus becomes engaged to young Pepe (never seen on stage) the most eligible bachelor in town and the object of desire for at least three of the five sisters.

    Written by: Frederico Garcia Lorca.
    Directed by: Chay Yew.
    Cast: Ching Valdes-Aran, Natsuko Ohama, Michi Barall, Eunice Wong, Kati Kuroda, Gusti Bogard, Jo Yang, Sophia Morae, Julienne Kim, Julyana Soelistyo.
    Pepe begins a secret affair with the youngest daughter, the scarlet Adela, passionately and willfully represented by Eunice Wong. Martirio, another sister, in a pinched portrayal superbly realized by Julyana Soelistyo, is also in love with Pepe, and rats out her sister in a jealous rage with dire consequences.

    Ching Valdes-Aran drives the play with a harsh elegance as the stick-wielding matriarch. Her servants — Michi Barall's sultry and impish Blanca, and La Poncia, the perfect country maid — churn the action with their spying, tattle-taleing, and self-interested advice. Kaati Kuroda as La Poncia captivates the daughters and audience alike with hilarious descriptions of how she controlled her long-deceased husband (she beat him). Jo Yang as Prudencia, Bernarda's neighbor is excellent as is Sophie Morae as Bernarda's cross-tempered daughter and likely successor. Julienne Hanzelka Kim as Amelia, the bookish daughter and budding feminist, is magnificent, her distinct high-pitched voice utterly compelling. Gusti Bogard sings beautifully as Maria Josefa, Bernarda's mother and Kristin Jackson's dance sequences are like stories within themselves.

    Chay Yew's direction is fluid and clever. His chorus of 12 actresses, lining the stage in chairs, play a myriad of characters from the town, add sound effects and act as set pieces. Sarah Lambert's minimalist stage with its sprinkling of red rose petals is beautiful. Performed without intermission, this 90-minute tragedy is a transcendent experience in two cultures that is not to be missed.

    DECEMBER 13, 2000

    Reader comments on The House of Bernarda Alba:

  • Lorca, the genious   from Manel, Feb 9, 2001
  • wow   from Ellie, Apr 29, 2006

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