BWW Review: BLOOD WEDDING, Omnibus Theatre
The Mother rails against fate, fate that took away her husband, knifed by a rival, the weapon now, portentously, in her son's hand as he sets off to work in the family restaurant. Her world is not defined by the presence of joy, of family, of hope - her world is one of loss, of love, of happiness and, soon, of a son. He is to marry his bride and she, as was always likely in London's interlinked Spanish community, is connected to those who murdered his father.
It's a heady mix - but it always is with Lorca, even in this re-imagined, contemporary version by George Richmond-Scott. People stand on the edge of madness, unable to step one way or the other, until (as they must) they fall, spiralling into the abyss of inevitable consequences.
Sure it ain't pretty, but Lorca excavated the soul and didn't like what he found - though his own humanity was such that he was able to thread a sliver of black humour through his appalling revelations - perhaps only Anton Chekhov did it more seductively, more astutely, more compellingly.
Federico Garcia Lorca had but three years to live when Blood Wedding premiered, the fascists, as they always do, showing just enough intelligence to spot a dangerous enemy and then plenty enough ruthlessness to dispose of it. No wonder they feared a man who could see straight through human weakness and then reveal it with such poetic grace.
Back in the play, the Son's bride, in her wedding dress, wavers and that's enough for Leo, his own marriage empty of everything except his barely acknowledged son, to whisk her away for the life they should have had were they the pair to be married, in love, but three long summers in the past. It doesn't end well - look at the title.
This production exemplifies what the fringe is for - it's innovative, it's beautifully performed and it's remarkably good value at the box office. We should celebrate that trifecta of achievement more often and more loudly.
Maria de Lima's mother holds the production together, her eyes flashing within a face pinched by the effort of holding back the screams year after year. She comes very close to toppling into caricature, but maybe the fact that she's Spanish and not Italian keeps her just the right side. She's also splendid doubling as the homeless woman who epitomises Death in the surreal second act supported by Yorgos Karamalegos's sexually charged Moon, a devilish provocateur, egging on men who need little more incentive to fight.
Racheal Ofori delivers the tricky role of the Bride with the confidence it needs. She's a strong woman, but she's not strong enough to deal with the waves that break over her heart, caught in the eye of an existential storm. Who really knows that they're doing the right thing on their wedding day?
Federico Trujillo and Ash Riz do not quite get to grips with their roles as the rivals for the Bride's hand, though that's hardly their fault. Updating the setting has diminished the torrent of testosterone that flows through the original - men with axes singing off stage, the sweat all but suffusing the air, the horses an elemental reminder of nature's power. These 21st century metropolitan men seem too weak, too normal to succumb to their hate, if not their lust. They look more likely to sort things out over a cerveza or bottle of Rioja.
There's much else to admire in the show - music, movement and a willingness to use all the space available, placing the audience within the action and not mere observers thereof. Most of all, need I say, it has the source material of the doomed genius, something it never forgets.
Photo Nick Arthur-Daniel