Cat’s cradles and mental moons…

Blood Wedding at the New Diorama Theatre

Faction Theatre’s Blood Wedding successfully embraces the poetry, passion, lyricism and sensuality of Lorca’s language, but the physical components are a bit “A Level”. At the New Diorama Theatre.

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In the space of a couple of weeks, Faction Theatre has travelled from Russia to Spain; from Chekhovian naturalism to Andalusian theatricality. Part two of the journey has been rather successful.

Although unknown to many, Blood Wedding is based on a true story about an arranged marriage that culminates in murder. As you may expect from the title, this is a pretty succinct overview of the play. A young Bride is betrothed to a Bridesgroom, despite her heart belonging to another – namely the off-limits, deep and brooding Leonardo. Gritting teeth through the joyous celebrations, Leonardo and Bride finally break free. The lovers’ lust brews bloodlust and the couple are pursued into the moonlit wilderness.  

The group embraces the poetry, passion, sensuality and grace contained within Lorca’s script, as well as the directorial style and dramatic flamboyancy of the piece. The integration of music and song is impressively directed and the musical compositions embody Spanish culture.

Certain performances stand out among the large cast; in particular Anna-Marie Nabirye as Mother. Demonstrating complete dedication and commitment to the text, Nabirye paints a picture with the words and breathes life into the play. Due to a strong sense of stage presence, the actress is very watchable. Once again, Jonny McPherson shines – this time as Leonardo – and the relationship with Derval Mellett’s Bride explores a gritty and powerful dynamic. Incidentally, McPherson and Mellett were also paired up in Faction’s Three Sisters – a sign that the actors have natural chemistry perhaps. The two lovers grip the audience with their sensitive delivery, and their parting words are actually quite moving. 

A few weaker acting moments mildly taint the production values and again I witness elements of emotional and textual disconnection. Without hanging onto the negatives, in general, the cast have a clear sense of the poetry and lyricism of Lorca’s language and director Rachel Valentine Smith’s vision is successfully conveyed. Time for the “but”…

I have a serious gripe with physical theatre when it comes across as an add-on as opposed to an integral component of the production, and unfortunately there are elements of the physicality that remind me of my A Level drama classes. I’ve seen so many shows where string or rope is used to bind the actors; and that’s just one example of the rather typical physical work. 

The moon appears on stage in a straight-jacket, so if you’re unfamiliar with the play, you’ll probably have no idea what’s going on. The restrained moon bounds around among rakes, poles and mirrors – all tools used to depict the moonlit landscape. And yes, the symbolism and subtext isn’t lost on me (the lunar cycle works in sync with hormones and can induce madness in mankind), and I know what they’re trying to do… but it’s not necessary. The language does the work for them. 

There’s no question that some integration of stylized movement is pretty essential in lifting Lorca on its feet; without visual stimulation the production risks being static and perhaps even dull… but this production utilises common and overused techniques, therefore lacking originality and imagination. I’m not a choreographer or director, and I haven’t seen Lorca performed before – but I imagine there’s a better way of manifesting the visual than resorting to cat’s cradles and mental moons. 

Date reviewed: Tuesday 29th January 2013
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