If drag shows at the Newtown are getting a bit repetitive for you, then nip around the corner to St Stephen’s Church to see the tale of a more interesting homosexual. Federico Garc?Lorca is Spain’s most celebrated playwright and poet. The fascists dragged him to an olive grove outside his beloved city of Granada and shot him in the early days of the Spanish civil war. Apparently he begged and screamed effeminately -“ which is hardly surprising -“ but that could be fascist propaganda.
The popularity of Lorca’s plays springs from his passionate use of Spanish traditional and popular forms of poetry, folk tale and farce. And his empathy for Spanish women.
All these elements are mined in Lorca: A Tragic Dream In One Act, a poetic series of vignettes snatched from his life and his most famous plays, Blood Wedding, Yerma and The House Of Bernarda Alba.
A Spanish guitarist greets us in the dark of the graveyard and leads us into the church, to three young women dressed in black with blood-red scarves. It’s all a bit surreal, which is appropriate since, as we see, Lorca had close friendships with his fellow surrealists, the painter Salvador Dali and filmmaker Luis Bu?. With imaginative use of sound, movement and minimal props, the women play all the roles, but return constantly to their water buckets as a chorus of gossiping Spanish peasant women. They whisper about his sexuality but also enact from his plays the story of a barren woman who murders her husband, and another about a shamed unwed mother who abandons her baby to the dogs. Precious water splashes from the buckets and other props as an elemental reminder of pain and spilt blood. Lorca’s feminist empathies are well celebrated.
Vanessa Caswill, Angela Ledgewood and Venetia Taylor bring different competencies, especially in vocal strength and gravitas, as they flit from one character or voice to another. Caswill, also the co-writer and co-director with Ed Clarke, is the most powerful. The biogs of this troupe suggest most are more interested in film projects and that shows in the theatrical skills not always matching the strong visual imagination of Lorca. But Clarke and Caswill have created an intense complex experience in the evocative setting of a church at night.
Lorca by Naked Productions is at St Stephen’s Church, Newtown, until 2 September. Dress warm!