Theatre Blood Wedding Young Vic, London

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"Your tears are just tears, they come from your eyes," declares the bereaved Mother in the new Ted Hughes version of Lorca's Blood Wedding. "My tears will be different. When I'm alone my tears will come from the soles of my feet. From my very roots. And they'll burn hotter than blood." You can see why it would be something of an understatement to claim that the emotions in this drama must surge up from the gut if a production of it is to work properly. In Tim Supple's staging at the Young Vic, some very good English actors fail to suggest the powder-keg of primitive feeling on which these characters are dangerously perched.

This play, about an erotic blood feud and a young bride's elopement with another man on the day of her wedding, is the most difficult of Lorca's three great rural tragedies to bring off in this thinner-blooded country. The last version I saw made heavy use of flamenco dancing. But instead of suffusing the drama with its dark energies, the dancing merely provided exotic interludes, rather as if the tragedy were being interrupted by tourist travelogues about Andalusia.

Supple, as you'd expect from so talented a director, has not settled for such a flashy non-solution. His production is full of imaginative ideas. For example, in a blackly exuberant sequence at the end of the first half, Jasper Britton as the sullen, glowering lover and Alexandra Gilbreath's bitter, intense bride make a dream-like return to the scene of her recent nuptials and systematically desecrate it, hurling the flowers skywards and emptying the pitchers over the tables. It's a potent physicalisation of the damage their elopement wreaks and the scene echoes to the crash and swirl of excellent music, provided by a team who sit in a small fortress of exotic instruments ranging from didgeridoo and singing bowels to the bagpipe-like gaitas.

But, despite all this and a fine performance from Gillian Barge, who, in the more abstract second half, doubles as the grim, vendetta-bereaved mother and the baleful, surrealist beggar woman, there's a sapping Englishness about the occasion. Nowhere more so than in the chorus, where the well- scrubbed young girls would be more convincing as the pupils of Miss Jean Brodie than as earthy Spanish types.

n To 2 Nov. 0171-928 6363

PAUL TAYLOR

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