BWW Reviews: BLOOD WEDDING, Courtyard Theatre, October 23 2013
These women emerging from the mist,singing and shrieking, dressed in the dark veils of death, yet giving life to babies born in pain. Who are they? Are they happy or sad? Are the absent men the cause of their problems or the solution?
Federico Garcia Lorca was shot by Franco's thugs in 1936, but his words will live forever. Bronagh Lagan's Blood Wedding (at the Courtyard Theatre until 16 November) does full justice to his work with a production that overflows with emotion. compels with its portrayal of families rent asunder and captivates with its language. It is also beautiful to look at, thanks to Francisco Rodriguez-Weil's set and Paul Green's lighting.
Which doesn't mean it's easy to watch. Lynsey Beauchamp's rage at the murders of her husband and eldest son burns with anger, her anguish barely containable in a human vessel. In this play of contrasts - criminals and victims, light and shade, love and hate - Jack Hardwick's sweet, naive Groom is opposed by his rival, Matt Willman's testosterone-soaked Leonardo - and we know immediately where that's going. Lurking, snake-like, in every scene, Miles Yekinni's Death reminds us of how close everyone is to his seductive grasp.
In the middle of the torment, the Bride is pulled between duty and desire, between lovers, between families. Anna Bamberger, a blonde-haired Rheinmadchen amongst black-eyed senoritas, gives a strange, compelling, almost ethereal performance, in which she is both in the scenes and outside them. It's easy to see how these men could be snared by her and how the women failed to see her for what she is, as she glides around the stage, eyes following her. It's a detached, largely understated performance, that balances the turmoil she causes wherever she goes.
Blood Wedding is a difficult piece to stage - so much can go wrong in any production that's an all-through 100 minutes, never mind one with this level of ambition - but Aria Entertainment pull it off spectacularly well. It won't put a skip in your step, but it'll make you think again of what a small company in a fringe theatre can do - something that never ceases to amaze me.