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Blood Wedding, Waterloo East Theatre

Federico Garcia Lorca
Directed by Zoe Ford
★★★

Pros: Some strong cast members offer passionate and realistic performances.
Cons: The surrealism surrounding the final act may be off putting for some. Seating arrangement made it hard to see some of the action.
Our Verdict: The first and final acts leave much to be desired however this is more to do with the play itself than this production of it.
Courtesy of Hiraeth Artistic Productions
Hiraeth Artistic Production‘s version of Lorca’s Blood Wedding is the latest piece of work at Waterloo East. Written in 1933, it tells the story of two Spanish families who are brought together by the young bride and groom set to be wed. Underlying tensions from past events are still acutely felt between the two households and the bride’s secret desire for an old flame threatens to destroy the marriage before it has even begun. 
Having no previous knowledge of Blood Wedding, I was looking forward to the production despite being warned by friends of the surreal nature of the play. I was disappointed with the first 15 minutes and this was in part down to the seating arrangement and my inability to see what was happening on the stage, despite being just halfway back. Those around me were also craning their necks to try and see what was taking place and it was only when the Mother came on stage dressed in black that I realized they were preparing a person’s body for burial. 
Scarlet Sweeney portrays the heartbroken Mother, however her quiet mournful voice was barley audible in the long room with trains rattling overhead. As a result I missed much of the back-story in the opening scene, which meant I spent a good 10 minutes utterly confused. Mark Forester-Evans, playing the bride’s father and Carolina Main in her role as the maid offer some much welcomed comic relief. Forester-Evans’ character while not main role in itself, encourages audience laughter through his jolly manner in the few scenes he does appear in. Main’s ability to make the audience laugh through simple gestures such as eye rolls, elaborate hand movements and over the top facial expressions, provided a break from the tension and drama on stage.
The lead roles of bride and bridegroom are played by Maya Thomas and Dominic Danson, who stand out with their solid performances. Danson portrays the jilted husband convincingly, moving between rage, desperation and sadness. Thomas meanwhile is at her best in the second act where her character has more stage time and emphasizes her vulnerability as she offers herself as a sacrifice to her Mother-in-Law following the death of her son, the bride’s husband.
After a confusing start with Act One, I became quickly engrossed in the second act, and by the intermission was readily looking forward to Act Three, only to be thrown a curveball. The surrealism in Act Three left me totally confused and the quick pace of the first two acts made for a disappointing conclusion. The characterization of the moon and death do not add anything to the play and I could hear whispers around me questioning who these two characters were supposed to be – something I only had the answer to having looked in my programme during the interval.
Even with several strong cast members I failed to become engrossed until the second act and then again became disappointed by the third. If you’re a fan of Lorca’s work then this production could be for you, unfortunately it just wasn’t for me.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Blood Wedding runs at Waterloo East Theatre until 7th July 2013.
Box Office:020 7928 0060 or book online at http://waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com/

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