Heather Oliver and Jack Hawkins play the romantic leads with considerable enthusiasm, but with the violence mostly offstage, you could get the impression that the worst of the Commander's vices is being a bit excitable about expressing his droit de seigneur. One is left sifting the speeches (frequent, dramatic and peppered with references which may have meant a lot to audiences in 17th Century Spain but seem a little lost today) for the outrages and violence that allows Fuente Ovejuna, to revolt so violently against the yoke of tyranny.
The decision to report suffering, but not show it (even to the extent of having actors describe injuries they don't have) encourages cast and audience to take violence lightly, with rape and torture scenes played for laughs, and the audience giggling at murder and bloody revolution. Jaffar Khan and Sarah Cook make fine regal presences as King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, appearing periodically from on high to express authority, but even they can't assert moral authority after sending an inquisitor to torture the townsfolk. In the end, one can't help wondering whether this was the best raw material for a feel-good comedy.