Some productions are enhanced when a director changes the contexts of a play. Loncraine’s Richard III set in Nazi Germany; Hytner’s Henry V transposed to the time of the Iraq war; Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet set in corporate New York; but Lorca in London? It’s true that one of the major themes in Blood Wedding is the individual’s fight against the Andalucían Catholic rural culture of the 1930s which suppressed freedom; but in George Richmond-Scott’s re-imagining of the play Spanish migrants in London and beyond – with the inevitable and lamentable struggles migrants may have – offer very little to connect it to the characters in Lorca’s Blood Wedding. By adapting the script the loss of Lorca’s poetic language and much of the symbolism is quite frankly tragic.
The production as a whole lacks the cohesion to leave the audience either emotionally moved or intellectually stimulated.
It opens with three women – one miming looking at a photograph album to suggest nostalgia perhaps? Another texting. Were they meant to remind us of the prophetic girls winding red wool from the original text? Christianna Mason's design doesn’t offer many clues about where it’s set. The floor and walls are fake marble and the doors look like Venetian blinds but are operated by hand. To open and close these doors was tricky, but the reason they were there became clear at the end when the dead men walk through them – a nice touch.
Maria de Lima’s performance as the Mother provides adequate passion as a woman deprived of her husband and sons through vendettas. However it was rather disturbing when at times the audience saw fit to laugh at the mother’s description of members of her family being knifed to death. Maybe it became apparent that there is little to link knife-crime in London to the vendettas of pre-civil war Spain. She also played the homeless woman in Act III with equal passion and much humour helped by a great costume.
But the main source of passion and sexual tension in the play between the bride and Leo is palpably missing unfortunately. The bride (Racheal Orfori) did at times exhibit the complexity of the character who is torn between her love for Leo (Ash Rizi), her love for her father (Yorgos Karamalegos) and her need to do the right thing. Leo’s wife (Miztli Rose Neville) does convince with her jealous outbursts at the wedding when she refuses to go on his bike, which is the means by which Leo visits the bride in the night when he should have been with her. The bike – which is a symbol of machismo in our society – is acceptable as a modern equivalent to the symbolism of the horse in the original. What also worked well was the audience becoming the wedding guests in the interval. After a beautiful song performed by Camilla Mathias as the neighbour and friend, the mother comes in and demands everyone should search for the runaways. However to make a greater impact the mother should have moved further around and into the audience as her cries to take sides were often lost.
The third act is always problematic for a director as the style moves from naturalism to symbolism. The woodcutters become street cleaners, which works well, the beggar woman; the symbol of death works well as a bag lady and most interesting of all is the leather clad living embodiment of the devil? Whoever he was it was certainly engaging and physically skilful. The sound designer Daniel Balfour provided some very good and evocative moments, which certainly helped the audience’s understanding of the action, but the ending is anti-climatic and the production as a whole lacks the cohesion to leave the audience either emotionally moved or intellectually stimulated.