The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings








Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp London London Review
The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca

"Juan I can't look at you but I can see you." — Federico
The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca
Damien Hasson as Federico and Matthew Bentley as the Young Juan (Photo: Ed Clark)
Nicholas de Jongh's first play Plague Over England was a huge delight, witty, incisive and full of political and moving personal insight. His second is a more sombre affair about the death of the Spanish homosexual playwright Federico Garcia Lorca in the Spanish Civil War. Therein lies the conundrum, we know from the very beginning that this will end badly.

We do learn however about the British complicity in fostering Franco's government to keep Spain from joining with Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. We hear about the British Secret Service direct part in airlifting Franco from Morocco to Spain, for his coup d'etat, in the company of two beautiful peroxide blonde women to make them look like rich playboys rather than political leader and supporter.
I am not sure whether this true but in 2009 an Irish banker (Peter Dineen) and his wife (Julia Tarnoky) discover in the garden of a holiday home in Granada Spain, the skeleton of a man shot at the base of his spine and keep it secret. The assumption is that it is where Lorca was buried because of the part of his body that was shot because he was a "maricon".

The best scenes are those between Lorca (Damien Hasson) and his recently identified, surviving lover Juan Ramirez de Lucas whom we meet as a young man (Matthew Bentley) and again in old age (John Atterbury). Both Juans act particularly well. At one point we think that we are witnessing a row between young Juan and Federico but they are in fact reading one of Lorca's plays.

The night I saw, Julia Tarnoky had performing issues. Her acting was so overly mannered that I asked myself, "Why? Was it excruciating first night nerves?" I even mused that she might have been on a sabotage mission to revenge all those actors who had received bruising reviews from Nicholas de Jongh when he was the theatre critic of the Evening Standard. She was slightly better after the interval when some of the over playing could be attributed to playing her part as the ghost of a famous Spanish actress come back to cushion Lorca's imminent demise and obviously she had been told to calm her hands down and so was firmly clasping her long skirt with both hands for much of this act. I have since watched her beautiful rendition of Howard Barker's poems that I can only speculate that someone must have told her to put more emphasis, more animation into her playing and knocked her confidence.

With many switches of scene it was too dark to read the theatre programme scene headings and although British wartime music delineated switches from Spain to London and Spanish classical guitar marked us back in Spain, the actual scene changes seemed clumsy. There are diluted sub-themes as a gay journalist and theatre critic learns to relate to Harry, his (possibly bisexual) actor grandfather and those of Maria Pineda the dead Spanish actress but these are not developed.

A play full of sad moments.

Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca
Written by Nicholas de Jongh
Directed by Hamish MacDougall

With: John Atterbury, Matthew Bentley, Peter Dineen, James Groom, Damien Hasson, Julia Tarnoky
Designer: Loren Elstein
Lighting: Zia Holly
Sound Design and Composer: Edward Lewis
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval
Box Office:
Booking to 25th October 2014
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 17th July 2014 performance at the Drayton Arms, Old Brompton Road London SW5 0LJ (Tube: Gloucester Road)
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca
  • I disagree with the review of The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca
  • The review made me eager to see The Unquiet Grave of Garcia Lorca
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email . . . also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

London Theatre Walks

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook

tales from shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

©Copyright 2014, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from