Adapted by David Ireland and directed by Jenny Sealey, Blood Wedding is Graeae Theatre Company‘s contemporary version of Federico Garcia Lorca’s play, which sees families and lovers torn apart on a fateful wedding day.
With Graeae’s focus on accessibility, it is no surprise that perhaps the biggest success of Blood Wedding is a technical one. One of its most striking features comes from the use of subtitles projected onto the set and accompanying audio descriptive narration. This could be intrusive or distracting, but instead proves to be quite a distinct stylistic feature expertly added to the production. The dialogue doesn’t always match the subtitles being projected, whether as a result of late alterations to the script or simply cast members improvising on the night, but it really doesn’t matter, as it doesn’t detract from the overall effect. Rather, it is more of a testament to the casts’ ability to adapt.
In fact it’s hard to find fault with any of the cast members, but two of the supporting characters stand out – namely Gerard McDermott as Alex, the bride’s father, and Ann Louise Ross as her aunt. Their delivery of the show’s more comedic moments prove some of the most memorable.
Ironically, it is the play’s use of humour that is also its biggest downfall. While it isn’t that the jokes aren’t funny or don’t land, it’s that they prove to be quite jarring tonally with the more dramatic moments. At times, particular scenes build in intensity only to have the moment undercut by a seemingly arbitrary joke that ultimately detracts from the show’s conclusion, which in itself seems forced. While one might accept Edward’s transformation from adoring groom to a man consumed with vengeance in Lorca’s original iteration, here it feels unjustified, seemingly brought on by nothing more than a swig of whisky and the mention of his dead father’s blood.
While Blood Wedding might not work on every level, it is for the most part an enjoyable affair, with strong performances all around and attractive set dressing. Where Blood Wedding really excels is not only in showcasing the abilities of disabled performers, but also in making theatre accessible in every way, something Sealey has championed throughout her career. Overall it’s not perfect, but it is worth watching.