by Chloe Whitehead
‘Let the Bride awake!’
Intrigue and betrayal reigns in this adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s 1930s classic, Blood Wedding. The Burton Taylor Studio provides an intimate and compelling venue for the drama, with only two rows of seats before the scandal-riven world of rural Spain encroaches upon the audience. Despite only watching the dress rehearsal, I feel privileged to have witnessed a fine piece of drama.
The play centres around the marriage of a young couple, known only as the Bride and Groom, and the family tensions surrounding this following a violent feud between other families in the district. The Groom’s father and brother were brutally murdered as a result of the row, and so the Groom’s mother reflects on the tensions stirred by the marriage. Complications ensue when Leonardo – a local reckless horseman, former lover of the Bride but now married – hears of the impending union, and the loyalties of the Bride are tested as she must choose between passion and social acceptance.
Each cast member delivers a strong performance throughout the drama, particularly Jeevan Ravindran as the grief-stricken Mother. Her portrayal carries a remarkable intensity and authenticity, providing a great dynamic with her idealistic son. Tom Rawlinson as Leonardo is similarly striking, supplying generous doses of smoulder to elevate the tension. Indeed, all the cast members are well deserving of praise, despite some clear teething problems with small moments of interruption. Hannah Rose Kessler’s ethereal portrayal of the moon warrants specific recognition. Writhing expressively on the bare wooden studio floor, her performance supplied an almost supernatural parallel to Issy Paul’s ominous Beggar Woman, whose encircling of the stage space and unpredictable entrances from alternative stage doors granted welcome spatial variety in a small performance area.
Such remarkable performances were heightened by the inventive and well chosen costumes, the dark undertones to each outfit providing startling and symbolic contrast to the shimmering white of the bridal dress. Flora Clark’s set design also importantly enhances the mood, its barren presentation – with just two stools centrally placed – conveying the bleakness of the setting whilst allowing the actors and audience imaginative freedom. The wings were also used effectively for often well-timed entrances and off-stage dialogue, though they could at times be seen through which slightly marred the sense of anticipation.
Sarah Wallace’s choice and manipulation of lighting should also be commended for its ability to offset the mood of each scene, the eventual reduction to candlelight producing ingenious dramatic effect that expertly mirrored the intensity of the final scene. I was particularly impressed by Hannah Rose Kessler’s musical talent: initially quiet and almost ghostly melodies intensified to rousing songs through her skilful guitar playing, cleverly mirroring the music emitted through the speakers. Overall it nicely infused the performance with a passionate Mediterranean flavour.
Ultimately, I was pleased to enjoy a well-executed and crafted performance. Director Eduardo Paredes and his Assistant Director Annabel Rowntree have produced hugely enjoyable and moving theatre, and I would recommend this adaptation to anyone lucky enough to snap up the last few remaining tickets (the play runs until Saturday 24th February). All the cast and creative designers do wonderful justice to Lorca’s intense drama of lust, rage and tragedy, and I don’t doubt they all have fabulous theatrical futures ahead of them.