Mariana Pineda

Federico Garcia Lorca

The play that launched Lorca’s stage careerFederico Garcia Lorca
(June 5, 1898 – August 19, 1936) was a Spanish poet and dramatist, also remembered as a painter, pianist, and composer. An emblematic member of the Generation of ’27, he was murdered by Nationalist partisans at the age of 38 at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.


1930. Spain struggles under Primo de Rivera’s tyrannical rule. In the face of persecution, traditional Andalusian folklore spoke of a young and rebellious heroine, Mariana de Pineda. Widow, mother of two, martyr of love and liberty; she defies the oppressive dictatorship in the name of love. Vividly captured, Mariana Pineda explores a conflict of fate, freedom and womanhood, recounting the short and turbulent life of a tragic legend.


Director Max Key

Design Jon Bausor

Lighting Anna Watson

Music Director Russel Hepplewhite

Sound Matt Downing

Cast includes: Amor Alcaraz, Rachel Atkins, Kate Bailward, Leila Birch, Geoff Breton, Pandora Colin, Gabriella Conardi, Georgine Carrigan, Jonathan Dunstan, Rachel Edwards, Joyia Fitch, Daniel Kanaber, Patrick Lynch, Jennifer Majka, Shireen Mula, Ben Nathan, Ruth Posner, Gemma Rooke, Scarlet Sweeney and Tanya Zoeller.


Sunday Times

The year that Noël Coward was putting together Tonight at 8.30 (see above), Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered by fascists, an early victim of the Spanish civil war.

Seventy years on, the Arcola is mounting an enterprising Viva Lorca season, beginning with this historical drama, set in the 1820s, but full of political resonance from the 1920s, when it was first performed. In oppressed Granada, “liberal” is a dirty word, but Mariana Pineda (Pandora Colin), a historical figure executed in 1831, is in love with liberty and its masculine embodiment, Don Pedro (Ben Nathan). Love and revolution come to nothing, however, and the saintly Pineda goes to her death, still resisting the advances of the Scarpia-like police chief (Patrick Lynch).

The atmosphere is rich with Lorca’s poetic writing and his Catholic sensibility; the director Max Key and his designer Jon Bausor have made good use of modest resources. Raptures about the whiteness of Pineda’ s neck take on a sinister significance when you discover she was garrotted.



It’s a cliche to say that we Brits do not possess the requisite Iberian passion to convincingly stage Lorca. UK performers can be stretched to bad-acting point by plays in which nothing is expressed save in metaphors involving blood, bulls and olive groves. Undaunted, Max Key’s production of Lorca’s early drama Mariana Pineda goes for broke: we have Spanish guitar, sun-blasted ochre floors and, on opening night, temperatures that would make Andalucia seem a bit nippy in comparison.


The ambience is the most impressive aspect of Key’s production (which launches a Lorca season at the Arcola). Designer Jon Bausor has created a two-sided stage whose adobe walls peter imperceptibly into cobwebby muslin drapes. Here we meet Mariana, a widow who has fallen in love with a republican rebel, Don Pedro. But the authorities are closing in, in the form of libidinous police chief Pedrosa. And, while her lover and cohorts flee for England, Mariana is arrested for the capital crime of stitching together a revolutionary flag.


The play, based on historical events and written as a challenge to the pre-Franco dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, foreshadows Lorca’s own grisly end. Key orchestrates his large cast with elegance and atmospheric flourishes: at one point, an informant appears as just a shadow on the gauze.

But Mariana’s embrace of self-sacrifice, her refusal to name her co-conspirators, is less affecting than it might be. Lorca’s densely poetic script makes everyone seem pompous, and all those oppressive omens (“even the rivers that run so freely feel like chains”) stifle the drama. Mariana’s acceptance of death, which she keeps reminding everyone is noble and principled, seems more a function of lovesickness and self-righteousness