Blood Wedding, Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Based on a newspaper story of an Andalucian bride who absconded with her childhood sweetheart - from a family with whom her own are feuding - Blood Wedding is a powerful meditation on fate, war, tradition, passion and repression. This new production by Jeremy Raison is intermittently powerful, but doesn't quite pull off the claustrophobic emotions of Federico Garcia Lorca's bloody poetry.

Dominated throughout by Cara Kelly's "Mother", a mass of bitterness mourning the slaughter of her husband and eldest son, the play has strong echoes of JM Synge's Riders to the Sea. The repressed terror with which the Mother agrees to her son's marriage seems only to confirm her belief that fate has it in for him.

But despite this strong beginning, some of the cast struggle to gel with the often tricky poetry of Ted Hughes's translation. When it works, there are striking moments: the opening scene between mother and her groom-to-be son; the appearance of the bride trussed up in a Victorian black dress; Iain Robertson's Heathcliff-ish Leonardo, abductor of the bride.

Stylistically, there are deeper problems. The reflective surface of the set - a glass and steel facade bisected by a bullet-pocked wall - immediately suggests the desert plain of Lorca's doomed nuptials, if not the time-scale. Unfortunately the rest of the design neither invokes the shiver of Lorca's vast open spaces or the claustrophobia of rural life. Like Matilda Brown's soundtrack, a nondescript pseudo-Spanish affair, it's too generic to give a real sense of the very specific Andalucian locale.

And you can't help feeling that Raison has missed a trick in his awkward approach to the play-off between realism and surrealism, as this small community goes into meltdown with the departure of the bride. With ample use of double-casting already playing on Lorca's interconnected characters, it seems strange to resort to puppetry for Lorca's Death figure, the Beggar Woman. Stylistically at odds with other elements in the production, it makes a pantomime of the figure who leads the groom to his fate.

Nonetheless, Lorca's play still manages to communicate powerfully its relentless treatise, finding its champion in Kelly. This may not be the production to prove that this rarely staged piece can work on the British stage, but it's a worthwhile attempt.

To 3 March (0141-429 0022)

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