Blood Wedding

Written by Federico Garcia Lorca
Adapted by Ted Hughes, directed by Jen Heyes
Liverpool Playhouse (25th-29th November 2008)

Reviewed by Alfonso Barata

For five nights only, Liverpool-based theatre company Cut to the Chase Productions brings to the cold and dark November evenings of the Northwest the full force of the typically harsh, hot and bright rural Andalusian landscapes. Tangled with passion, jealousy, pride and honour, this is a play that is instantly recognisable, for these are Lorca’s dear and recurring themes.

Lorca - a giant of the Spanish and European literature of the 20th century - was a victim of the repression that engulfed Spain in the wake of Franco’s coup that lead to the Civil War and the defeat of the Republic. As a supporter of the Republic and outspoken critic of the traditional values of the church, his fate was sealed when he returned to his native Granada, against his friends’ advice, shortly after the coup. In a cruel and ironic twist, his own tragic destiny somehow followed that of his characters.

This production successfully rises to the challenge of bringing to a contemporary British audience the complexities and harshness of the aforementioned rural Andalusia of the early twentieth century. Ted Hughes’ translation and adaptation of the original text manages to render Lorca’s characteristic use of the Spanish language without sounding too awkward or out of context.

The cast also do their best - and mostly succeed - in trying to bring alive the required passion that Lorca’s characters demand. This is particularly the case with Sabina Franklyn’s depiction of The Mother; like in other Lorca’s plays, the role of women - be these a mother or a wife (Yerma or The House of Bernarda Alba are good examples) - acquire a chief importance and presence.

Blood Wedding is no exception, and here Franklyn is given a challenging role that she admirably resolves, with a performance that sets the tone of a play which oozes an underlying sense of tension and tragedy from the first scenes.

Like in Colombia’s Garcia Marquez masterpiece Chronicle of a Death Foretold, we know that there is no escape from the fact that more disgrace, more pain, more grief, in short more blood will be spilled and that it will be women who will have to bear the consequences of men’s actions yet again.

A fatal combination of love, pride and desire of revenge are the causes of the almost unbearable tension that the actors so well convey throughout the play; death seems to be unavoidable and perhaps the only logical consequence to this disastrous recipe.

In what was supposed to be a day full of joy - a young couple’s wedding day - but the Bride follows her own instincts and elopes with her lover. Allegorical figures warn us of what we already know will happen next. Predictably, chaos, pain and tears ensue.

Highly poetic, rich in flamenco inspired choreography and visually inspiring throughout, this is a production that honours Lorca’s original text.

In addition to all the above, the fact that flamenco guitarist and virtuoso Juan Martin performs live music accompanying the different scenes makes of Blood Wedding a total theatrical experience.

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