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Blood Wedding by Federico García Lorca at the Young Vic | Review

Olwen Fouéré & Aoife Duffin Blood Wedding - (c) Marc Brenner.
Olwen Fouéré & Aoife Duffin Blood Wedding – (c) Marc Brenner.

The action in this production of Blood Wedding takes place in Ireland, or at least with characters who deploy Irish accents. Shifting the narrative away from its original Spain setting works fine – the exact reasons for this are difficult to definitively pin down. But as it’s a cop-out to say, ‘It works, but I’m not sure why’, I would suggest it’s partly to do with a similar strength of family ties, and partly because of conflict in Spanish history as well as Irish history. War is effectively people turning against people, and so this play is a sort of micro version of inter-country fighting.

Leonardo Felix (Gavin Drea) is part of a family that is responsible for the deaths of members of the family of a woman known only as the Mother (Olwen Foueré), and thus she is more than a little concerned that her son, the Groom (David Walmsley) is about to marry someone, the Bride (Aoife Duffin), who was previously in a relationship with Felix. The hatred for that family is palpable – Mother and Felix meet at the wedding, they openly spit at one another. At other times, the atmosphere isn’t as relentlessly dark and dreary as it is in more intense productions of this play I’ve come across previously.

All over before you know it,” muses the Weaver (Brid Brennan) at the Bride, when the latter is in a state of distress – the deadpan delivery of that line maximises the comic effect and brings the house down, as much as a mildly amusing line in an otherwise serious play can bring the house down on press night. While the pace of the production ebbs and flows, one wondered, every so often, if it could flow a little faster overall, especially in the final scenes, which seem to trickle through rather than build to a crescendo.

There’s extensive use of the Moon (Thalissa Teixeira), a character that spends an inordinate amount of time singing or otherwise wailing, mostly not in English. The singing is very tuneful, but it was periodically far too loud, such that I found myself putting my forefinger against my right ear at one point to relieve discomfort. It also killed (at least, for me) the poignant mood of the final scenes, where private grief was interrupted and overshadowed by extremely loud singing. I found it completely unnecessary, and it added nothing to the audience’s understanding of events on stage.

It’s unusual (but far from unprecedented) to see actors somehow remain in character even when pushing and pulling props around. A couple of woodcutters (Faaiz Mbelizi and Roger Jean Nsengiyumva) perform brilliantly, even if their lines are rather abstract, and the method by which Felix is portrayed riding a horse on stage is simple but nonetheless effective. Things aren’t, in the end, that far removed from being one of those Hollywood action movies where not very many characters that we see at the beginning are still alive at the end.

Few characters are likeable in a play with such a high amount of distaste and displeasure, and while I think this production’s 110-minute running time could be cut further to around ninety, the show is well-performed, and more often than not, is sufficiently dramatic.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

A bride promised. A blood vow broken. The vengeance of a village unleashed.
I want you green.
Green wind, green branches.
Boat on the ocean.
Horse on the mountain.

Written in the summer of 1932 with the Spanish civil war looming, Lorca’s anarchic meditation on the fate of the individual versus society was a prophetic foreshadowing of the violence that would soon both tear his beloved country apart, and lead to his own tragic end.

The mysteries of love and hate are explored against the backdrop of a community gearing up to unleash these elemental forces upon itself, with unstoppable consequences. What is done cannot be undone.

Multiple award-winning director Yaël Farber (Les Blancs, Mies Julie, The Crucible), brings Federico García Lorca’s most famous tragedy to the Young Vic in a new version by Marina Carr.

The full cast for Blood Wedding includes Bríd Brennan, Scarlett Brookes, Gavin Drea, Aoife Duffin, Annie Firbank, Olwen Fouéré, Roger Jean Nsengiyumva, Faaiz Mbelizi, Steffan Rhodri, Thalissa Teixeira and David Walmsley.

Written by Marina Carr, Directed by Yaël Farber, with Design by Susan Hilferty, Lighting by Natasha Chivers, Sound by Emma Laxton, Composition by Isobel Waller-Bridge, Movement by Imogen Knight, Casting by Julia Horan CDG, Fight Direction by Kate Waters, Voice and Dialect by Brendan Gunn. Jerwood Assistant Directors Monique Touko and Emily Ling Williams.

Blood Wedding
By Federico García Lorca
In a new version by Marina Carr
Directed by Yaël Farber
Booking to 2nd November 2019
Main House, Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, London, SE1 8LZ
https://www.youngvic.org/

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