26 July 2012
Merlyn Theatre, The Malthouse
to 19 August
I wonder what Federico García Lorca would think about Blood Wedding being performed in Australia 80 years after he wrote it.
His work is so connected to Spain before the 1936–39 Civil War (it is believed he was assassinated by right wing forces days before the war broke out), but great writing comes from truth, and truth is what makes the personal universal. His writing doesn't need an understanding of the politics or the society it came from to tell its story.
Blood Wedding is summarised in its title. Young lovers want to marry, but there are old family issues and unresolved loves; it never offers hope that it's going to end well. For all its politics and anger, Lorca writes about suffering and grief and the utter absurdity of fighting over things that ultimately mean nothing when a love (partner/child/sibling/parent/friend) is destroyed. No wonder Lorca still reaches us.
Director Marion Potts connects the story to Spain with a bilingual adaption, by Ranters Theatre's Raimondo Cortese. Even though this leaves most not understanding all the words of text and loses a fair chunk of the symbolism and poetry, it's a story that is easy to follow and the dual language gives a beautiful connection with the original writing that is rarely achieved with translation.
This duality of connection and contradiction is continued with a cast including prominent Spanish actors (Irene Del Pilar Gomez, Mariola Fuentes, Ruth Sanco Huerga) and locals (Silvia Colloca, Nicole De Silva, Ivan Donato, Matias Stevens, Greg Ulfan, David Valencia). There's an inconsistency in the overall performances, but it's endearing rather than distracting. Potts's direction seems to always start with character and by letting her cast find their unique connection to the character, the uneven passions always belong to characters.
The Sisters Hayes create the tone by bringing the languages and experiences together with a design that manages to be kitschly fun and dramatically epic. It somehow evokes the closeness of backyard urban Australia and the empty distance of rural Spain with vast wall of patterned bricks (made for Paul Jackson's always exquisite lighting), a row of fridges, a floor of dirt and the universal old-person floral recliner chair covered in protective plastic. Its intricacy draws the audience close and it contradiction instantly allows for the breathing space of laughs amongst the angst and inevitable grief.
I think Lorca would be astonished and proud and excited to see this production (and he'd love Melbourne). It's a production that shows the soul of Lorca and, even if it doesn't emotionally reach as strongly as it could, it's one to see for its understanding and connection and wholeness.
This review was on AussieTheatre.com
Photo by Jeff Busby