The moon hung over a misty stage as veiled women emerged and wailed in grief at some unknown tragedy, foreshadowing the sorrow that was to come. This was the dramatic beginning to the new production of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding, from a translation by Tanya Ronder, which is being staged at The Courtyard Theatre in East London.

Blood Wedding is a tragedy that unfolds over the course of what should be the most joyous of occasions, a beautiful wedding that brings two families together. The engagement and subsequent union of the Bride and Groom is meant to be a cause for celebration, but the surfacing of old emotions on both sides threatens to cast a shadow over the party as the Bride is confronted by a past love and the Groom’s Mother must face her grief over the death of her husband and other son.

The prospect of misfortune is hinted at by the near-constant presence of Death, who sometimes insinuates himself into the action to manipulate the fate of the wedding party, along with the Moon who becomes an excitable young girl. The magical realism of the Moon and Death’s characterization brings a fantastical quality to the work that makes it almost fable-like in its composition.

Blood Wedding was certainly skilfully staged…

The drama played out on a set constructed from salvaged doors, designed by Francisco Rodriguez-Weil, with lighting by Paul Green that perfectly accentuated the tone of each scene, although it took a while for the excessive dry-ice to clear from the prologue and for the audience to be able to see some of the early scenes. Blood Wedding was certainly skilfully staged and the action moved along at a good pace in this one-act ninety-minute production, but the swiftness of the plot sometimes meant that characters’ actions and motivations seemed abrupt at times due to lack of development.

It was the women who were especially good in Blood Wedding. Cassidy Janson as the Servant gave an outstanding performance that contrasted comedic wit against maternal concern for the Bride. Elizabeth Menabny’s performance as Leonardo’s Wife was also very strong, and her heartbreak was palpable in her strained interactions with her husband as their marriage crumbled beneath them. Yet, it was hard to feel sympathy for the Bride’s dilemma as neither her relationship with the Groom or with Leonardo were particularly convincing. The Groom, on the other hand, was very earnest in his pursuit of the Bride and in his belief in the power of love to heal all past ills.

…family, bloodlines, revenge, and love…

The play tackles the grand themes of family, bloodlines, revenge, and love by using moments of humour to balance the tragedy. Bronagh Lagan’s new production is a simple story, effectively told. This is an interpretation of Blood Wedding that, despite some troubles, is definitely worth watching.

Arts_3.5 Stars3.5 stars

Blood Wedding at the Courtyard Theatre runs until the 16th November

Additional Sunday performances at 3:30pm on 3rd and 10th November *No Monday performances*

Ticket prices vary: £10 Previews 16th-20th October, £12-18 all other shows


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