According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Review: Bernarda Alba
by Eric Miles Glover

Michael John LaChiusa is from the school of new American musical theater composers. His music is engaging at the same time it is disengaging—See What I Wanna See, about changing conceptions of guilt, conviction, and belief, is evidence—but he is an eminent conceptual artist, and the ideas manifested in his work are the substance of his craftsmanship. LaChiusa creates plot, character, and action steeped in musical narrative, and his dedication to work that exists in its truest form—no matter subjective opposition—is what separates him from popular American musical theater composers.

Bernarda Alba, an adaptation of the sinister Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca drama, explores themes similar to the ones explored in See What I Wanna See. In composing Bernarda Alba, however, LaChiusa has captured the realism of tension and repression in Andalusia at the same time he remains dedicated to the spirit of Lorca. Infused with Spanish cadences and the indicators of progressive musical theater, Bernard Alba is unparalleled.

Bernarda Alba boasts an engrossing score its ten-woman ensemble delivers with perfection. Its combination of “hummable” and “unhummable” numbers is a revelation—the hummable numbers heighten and compliment the unhummable numbers LaChiusa unveils during certain dramatic moments. One of the strengths of the work is the changing perspective. Bernarda Alba is named for the matriarch in the narrative but each of her five daughters is afforded an existentialist and stream of consciousness aria during Act II. Each aria enlivens each daughter and provides the viewer with an understanding of each of their frames of mind. Under the direction of Graciela Daniele, the ten-woman ensemble facilitates the changing of perspective with assistance from simple gesture and chiaroscuro lighting that draw attention to dramatic movements in the music and dramatic moments in the narrative structure.

Daphne Rubin-Vega is Martirio, the ugliest of the five daughters. Forced into perpetual mourning and isolation after the death of her father, Rubin-Vega uses her raw and evocative talents to complete her character. She is phenomenal. Droll, Judith Blazer is perfect as ambivalent Magdalena. Yolande Bevan is affecting as Maria Josefa, the senile mother of the matriarch.

Bernarda Alba is amazing. Surpassing See What I Wanna See in terms of resonance and content, Bernarda Alba reigns supreme.

No comments: