The New European

Stage Review: Blood Wedding

by Tim Walker on October 4, 2019

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

Aoife Duffin delivers a haunting mixture of fragility and defiance in this ‘stunning production’.

Theatre is about melting the ice within, of awakening dormant cells, of making us more fully alive, more fully human, at once more individual and more connected to each other. I wish I’d written that, but it was in fact Franz Kafka and it seems to me as good a way as any of defining what it is we hope for when we take our seats in the stalls.

Seldom, of course, do the plays I review tick all of Kafka’s boxes, but, somewhat miraculously, Yaël Farber’s Blood Wedding manages a straight six. I find myself struggling to find the words to do justice to what I saw, but I will put magical, evocative, dreamlike and beautiful out there just to get started.

The masterstroke of Marina Carr’s adaptation is to switch the action from rural Spain to rural Ireland, where Aoife Duffin’s young bride is about to wed David Walmsley’s respectable, if dull, young groom, while being pursued all the while by Gavin Drea’s wild-haired and dangerous Leonardo. The groom’s mother – played with mesmerising intensity by Olwen Fouéré – says the interloper is a gypsy and his murderous family has made a widow out of her and she will not stand for him ruining her son’s chance of happiness.

This is a play about humanity at its most basic and primal and the language that Carr employs in her adaptation – along with Susan Hilferty’s design and of course the actors – manages to capture all of the poetry of Federico García Lorca’s original work, which was written in 1932 as part of his ‘rural trilogy’, along with Yerma and The House of Bernarda Alba.