If you want to be surprised and leave the naturalistic British theatre for a little while, go down to Clapham to see Blood Wedding, the first part of what some have called the “rural trilogy” of Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca. Even though this new production by George Richmond-Scott is set in the urban jungle of London, the tone of Blood Wedding and its multicultural cast give it a true sense of foreignness that I greatly welcomed.
The story tells of the Son and the Bride who are getting married very soon. They are being intently watched by the nervous Mother and Leo, the bride’s secret ex-lover. The play is full of symbols, passionate and dramatic elements that fuel its other-worldliness. This lends itself well to the Spanish heritage of the characters, swaying between tradition and the future. In addition, musical interludes elevate the play and remind us of the importance of slowing down – especially in this city.
The Son’s Mother has been mourning her husband and worrying about her son’s fate every day. On the wedding day, she is very aware of how bad omens could take over. On the Bride’s side, the Friend is a joyful presence, very happy go lucky and encouraging about the future. On the other side of town, Leo and his Wife, who have been invited to the wedding, are threatening the day’s peace. The wedding party ends with the Bride and Leo, who are secretly in a self-destructing love relationship, running away into the night after the ceremony.
The set by Christianna Mason is very bare, with dirty white walls showing wound-like cuts. Garage doors open and close, alluding to the city. The costumes are richer, with colours and textures of the wedding dress or the Wife’s wedding outfit giving life to the stage. The Son’s baby blue wedding suit is also very suited to his innocence – poor guy!
As the lovers get lost in the night, the moon and the Homeless woman draw us into the irrationality and loss of control that happens at night. I find that London is a city that really closes down at night – in its centre, streets empty out very quickly. That is when new creatures appear, afraid of the elements. The lighting design by Jack Weir highlights the Moon’s shiny and tight garments and the night workers’ neon yellow jackets that will let no one hide.
The cast is a strong ensemble. Maria de Lima is wonderfully nervous and stubborn as the Mother, and equally excellent as the Homeless Woman – what a strong costume, too. Miztli Rose Neville is sympathetic as the Wife and shows tiredness and frustration due to her new-born baby’s cries and absent husband. Camilla Mathias is also lovely as the joyful neighbour and friend, and enchants the audience with her guitar right before the second half. Yorgos Karamalegos as the Moon is sensual and dangerous while slithering around the stage.
What I really enjoyed about this show was the embracing of the Spanish community in London and the introduction of outsider influences in a local theatre. In addition, the strong cast is a joy to watch. However, I think this show can be taken even further by showing us the moon even earlier and showing that infamous “blood” from the title. This being said, it is a different kind of evening that has made me curious about Lorca and Richmond-Scott’s work.
Review by Sophie Tergeist
Seat: free seating | Price of Ticket: £16