“…This production is notable for both its boldness and restraint. Cáceres has concentrated on Lorca’s austerity, creating a stark frame that heightens the volatile emotions that drive the action.
Bernarda here is Bernadette, played with a steely focus by Melita Jurisic. There are four daughters instead of five – Marti (Candy Bowers), Angela (Peta Brady), Magda (Bessie Holland) and Adele (Emily Milledge). The final two players are Bernadette’s senile mother, Maria (Sue Jones), who is kept locked up in the back of the house, and the housekeeper, Penelope (Julie Forsyth).
This is by any measure a first-class cast, and their performances don’t disappoint. Jurisic and Forsyth together on stage are alone worth the price of admission. Cáceres’s direction is almost geometric: she creates a formal movement of bodies across the space that seems to grow organically out of the action.
The cast is supported by a production that melds a hieratic, formal aesthetic with tropes of outback Australia. Marg Horwell’s witty set uses air conditioning units and mosquito zappers as bling – the zappers become a kind of chandelier – and it is sumptuously lit by Rachel Burke. Irene Vela’s solemn, elegiac music and Jethro Woodward’s sound design are deeply textured, summoning the world beyond the claustrophobic house.
The result is remarkably beautiful theatre that looks squarely at the murderous silence at the core of oppression.
Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of The House of Bernarda Alba is showing at the Fairfax Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, until 7 July.”
– Alison Croggon, The Guardian