The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca at The Drayton Arms
Perhaps seeking to emulate the success of his first play, Plague Over England, Nicholas de Jongh’s latest endeavour is nothing if not ambitious. Jumping between 2009 and 1936, the play follows the events leading up to the untimely death of Garcia Lorca – and suggests how the British government of the time may have been complicit. On top of political intrigue, de Jongh explores a more personal tragedy: how Lorca’s infatuation with his 19-year-old lover, Juan Ramírez de Lucas, may have delayed his escape from Spain, and led to his murder at the hands of Franco’s fascists.
Brimming with ideas, The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca is admirable for its handling of multiple complex plots and weighty themes. With so much going on, however, the script does feel rather overcrowded and confusing at points, with each cast member playing several similar characters. Nevertheless, it is the gripping political drama that drives the play forward, especially as then prime minister Stanley Baldwin and the Secret Service appear to be working in tandem with European dictators.
De Jongh is a playwright in awe of his muse, and while there are more than a few moments of self-indulgence, the genuine outrage at Lorca’s direct (and indirect) murderers lends a much needed energy. In one way, the play is an attempt – albeit fragmented – to contextualise Lorca’s life, identity, work and its impact.
Damien Hasson’s portrayal of Lorca is spirited and complicated – a man who refuses to remain in the relative safety of Madrid for fascist-controlled Granada, for reasons that aren’t altogether clear. Like Lorca’s own plays, there is a haunting undercurrent of mysticism – “something drives me to Granada” he explains. Another nod to Lorca’s surreal style is the ghostly apparition of Mariana Pineda, a character from one of his early works.
It seems de Jongh’s greatest talent is in bringing disparate worlds together, finding subtle links between the past and present, people and places. Lorca’s advice to his young lover – “I beg you to be political” – is one that resonates far beyond the confines of this play.
Photos: Ed Clark
The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca is on at The Drayton Arms until 25th October 2014, for further information or to book visit here.