You’d think that seeing Lorca’s Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding) twice before would give me some authority and make me feel uber-qualified to pass judgement on any new production. But it is a testament to the richness of the work that neither the off-broadway production that I saw in Spanish nor the intense and intimate one that I saw seven years ago under a pub in Baron’s Court prepared me for the overwhelmingly awe-inspiring execution of vision by Bronagh Lagan in this triumph at The Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton.
On telling a colleague who had studied Spanish at university that I was going to see it, he summed it up perfectly by saying, ‘Isn’t that the one about the girl who gets married and runs away with someone she shouldn’t and then the moon conspires against them?’ There you have it in a nutshell: an intensely Spanish story about love, loyalty, betrayal, and the testy and vindictive nature of fate that will not be satisfied until it, in the embodied form of The Moon and Death, claims blood as the price for daring to defy.
And this production is most certainly magic realism, richly adorned in the magic of the theatre. We sit in a half-darkened space, obscured by the haze that surrounds a moon shining brightly over the stage. The natural elements feature prominently and then there are the right hints that we are in a simple and homely Spanish estate. After that, the magic is in music, composed by Lewis Greenslade, weaving its evocatively Spanish folk-influenced way through the narrative onstage, the arid reds and oranges projected onto the set to illustrate the fiery hot-blooded nature of the environment, and the moving performances onstage.
Lynsey Beauchamp turns our hearts to pity as Mother, embodying courage and a sense of lament for the poignant pathos her character elicits. Tamaryn Paine is spellbinding in her balletic turn as the playfully spiteful and bloodthirsty Moon. But the triumph of the night, both in terms of Lagan’s innovation and in terms of performance was Miles Yekinni as Death. Lankily dancing around the stage as an ethereally menacing presence from the beginning, Yekinni is a focal point of power on the stage, moving with a dark grace and subtlety that is as mesmerising as it is frightening, making his dark presence felt, if unseen, by all the principal characters in this intense drama.
Richly layered and sizzling with seductive, sexual energy, this production is a feast for the senses, and for the mind, it will leave the theatregoer’s soul rent in two by the end.
Blood Wedding is on until 16 November at The Court Yard Theatre in Hoxton.