Blood wedding

Rogue Play

Midland Arts Centre

**

Birmingham-based RoguePlay bring their brand of physical theatre to Lorca’s classic tale of family feud, betrayal and revenge.

Lorca’s themes and his language are intensely visceral, bound up in imagery of the earth, of nature and of the body. And so replacing this language with a more physical language brings a newblood wedding element to this much performed work.

And yet the physical theatre also detracts from the drama, taking out its core and leaving it just a little dull. The long dark stage pauses between scenes may be necessary for installing equipment or they may have been added for atmosphere but they slow the pace and separate each scene so that the drama becomes a series of vignettes rather than a tense narrative.

With everything leading up to a bloody confrontation between betrayer and betrayed, the audience should be sitting on the edge of their seats rather than wondering if the story is really going anywhere.

There is also a lack of clarity – not least when the character of Mother becomes the character of Death as a Beggar simply by putting on a cloak. For anyone who has never read or seen the play before this must have been mystifying.

That’s not to say that the circus skills are not impressive and they effectively express the disdain between betrayer-to-be Leonardo and his Wife as well as the passion between Leonardo and the Bride.

RoguePlay artistic director Kim Charnock takes the role of the Bride and plays that hollowed out woman well. She is particularly strong in the closing scenes as she begs the Mother to kill her.

Lorna Meehan has a tricky role to play with the Mother as here is a Spanish matriarch damaged by the loss of her son and husband who now faces the loss of her remaining son. Meehan manages the anger but she does not quite reach into her heart to reveal the dry bitterness of a woman dedicated to grief.

Anna Simpson is a beguiling Wife, while Aaron Twitchen is the gullible Bride Groom and Israel Costa the brooding Leonardo.

There is lots to like in this production. It is original and brave as it attempts to shed new light on a classic. But there is also a sense that this production could have achieved so much more with better integration of the narrative and the physical theatre and a bit more attention to some of the details of character.

Diane Parkes

O8-10-14

Blood Wedding is also an A2 set text with the AQA examining board.

On tour including Theatre Severn, Shroshire, Wed 22nd Oct 2014

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