18 April 2012
Lorca’s Blood Wedding
"A SPANISH TRAGEDY."
A review by Julia Gasper
by Oxford Theatre Guild at the Playhouse.
Lorca’s tragedy of
honour killing, set in rural Spain in the 1930s, is sombre and enigmatic. The predominant colours of this
production, black and red, are symbolic of passion, blood and death, none of which are ever fully
There is an
arranged marriage. The bride is young. Her father wants her to marry to breed children to work on the land. The
groom’s mother wants grandchildren to replace the dead family members who fell victim to one of the local feuds.
She has never stopped mourning for her lost husband and son. By the end of the story, there are two more dead men.
The bride runs off with Leonardo, who has secretly loved her and perhaps been her lover. They gallop away on his
stallion, which is so wild and rebellious it does not even want to be shod – symbolic surely of untameable passion!
But Leonardo is already married to another woman, and this impulsive flight brings disgrace on both families. Only
death can satisfy the village’s sense of dishonour.
The genre is
defined in the programme as “Poetic realism” a paradox that is never going to be easy. The challenge of translating
Lorca’s poetic Spanish into convincing English is met most successfully in the third Act where mime, dance and
incantation are predominant. I found the first half of the play slightly unsatisfactory in many ways, and felt that
the delivery of the lines needed a little more careful weighting, and some more ominous or ironic delivery. The
duet “Turning, turning” with two female singers was badly sung and it should be
When the curtain
rose on the final Act the dance and song were magic. The ballet sequence with the Moon dressed in white was
wonderful and so was the following scene with its light effects and the miming of the chorus. The quality of the
singing improved and the stylized enactment of the honour duel in which both men die was truly tragic in resonance.
For the disgraced bride there is no future except as a beggar and an outcast. In this production, she is actually
killed by her vengeful mother-in-law. There are many countries in the world today where that would still
Without a doubt, Lorca hated Spain, and portrays
it as a repressive, moribund and gloomy society. It exists only exists to stifle and frustrate people. The gypsy
flamenco guitar music and dancing which are featured in the play, so passionate and intense, contrast strikingly
with the village’s severe and punitive code of behaviour.
The mystery of why
the bride could not marry Leonardo in the first place, before he married somebody else, is never explained. He is
passionate and determined but also surly and cruel to his wife. At one point he actually throws her to the ground,
and he is plainly no hero. Leonardo is the weakness of this production. His figure is neither youthful nor slender
and the wardrobe mistress should find a corset for him as soon as possible. Failing that, a cummerbund two sizes
too small would help, and a dark-coloured shirt would draw less attention to his middle.
The stars of the
production are Mica Forrest as the Bride, Fleur Puit as Leonardo’s wife, Daniel Irving and Charlotte Evans as
the Moon and Chorus, and Chrissie Boyd as Death, the old beggar-woman. Altogether a good chance to see a modern
Image supplied by Oxfordplayhouse