Writer: Federico García Lorca, adapted by Tanya Ronder
Director: Bronagh Lagan
Reviewer: Ian Foster
Lorca’s writing is suffused with the heat and passion of his Spanish homeland and his 1932 play Blood Wedding is one of his most famous and oft-performed works. Aria Entertainment’s production uses Tanya Ronder’s recent translation but director Bronagh Lagan often struggles to combine the lyrical poetry and brutal realities of this play, introducing a too-wide range of elements that crowd the essential simplicity of the story.
The show is at its best when it allows simple but striking images to emerge – Miles Yekinni’s Death – a presence haunting the action from the off – appearing unexpectedly from behind a door; the true desire of the Bride breaking free in the middle of a densely choreographed wedding dance; the erect pride with which the Mother conducts herself at all times. And in these moments, this tragic tale of love and betrayal captures the right level of magic realism.
Elsewhere, the stage feels cluttered by devices and technique which muddy the narrative rather than elucidating it. Lewis Greenslade’s compositions are atmospheric but lack specificity; the choreography a little too precise to convince; and even Francisco Rodriguez-Weil’s well-intentioned and evocative set with its multiple doors lacks something in its execution – the idea of the claustrophobia of village life marred by its inherent inflexibility.
Performances are mostly strong though, able to invest the colloquialisms of Ronder’s adaptation with greater feeling than they perhaps deserve. Matt Wilman’s powerfully masculine Leonardo a visceral presence, Lynsey Beauchamp’s Mother a fierce example of vengeful Andalusian spirit and Nicola Duffett a wonderfully gossipy neighbour, making a single word “well…” speak volumes. Unexpectedly, the star turn comes from Cassidy Janson’s Servant, a gorgeously natural stage presence.
At just over 90 minutes, this version of Blood Wedding doesn’t outstay its welcome like the drunk uncle at the bar. Its over-elaborate nature does make one wish it had opted for a simpler ceremony or one tier less on the cake, but it is still an event you’d do well to get an invitation for.