Blood Wedding, staged elegantly by a cast dressed in neutral tones of black and grey, melds strongly punctuated movement with dialogue that could have come out of a lost manuscript by Shakespeare himself — had he written an alternate Romeo and Juliet who allowed societal pressures to deny the star-crossed lovers authorship over their own untimely demise. Of course, this is precisely what some commentators would say transgressive Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca attempted in the original 1933 version of the play.
Using sharply articulated movement to illustrate the tension — and sometimes violence — between our male and female leads and their putative suitors, this story of lovers forced into arranged marriages also uses dialogue to punctuate the extent to which our protagonists are merely props in the narrative of their interfering families.
“A wedding is not just the canapes. It’s a bed with the bride and groom glowing in it,” echoes a line spoken in the piece as it moves through the intra and inter-familial conflicts. The internal conflict of our leads underscores this until they make the bold leap to escape on our dashing lead’s steed, and ultimately set of a chain of events that leads us to the fatal conclusion.
“These violent delights have violent ends.”
The chase into the wilderness, which ensues after our leads exercise their final act of agency, includes an element of magical realism as the families engage a sorceress of sorts to locate them. Appearing on a scooter — an upgrade from a wooden broomstick — the sorceress rides in and announces her star-crossed lover finding skills with a well-timed cackle.
The performance piece is a pleasure to behold as the elegant stage design and the actors’ movements served to provide some pleasing visuals. The choice to meld modern elements (such as the scooter travelling witch) with the Old English style dialogue created some inconsistencies.
A plague on both their houses. The conflicts within and between the families is resolved as they converge to mourn the deaths of their sons.
“Here’s what love is: a smoke made out of lovers’ sighs. When the smoke clears, love is a fire burning in your lover’s eyes. If you frustrate love, you get an ocean made out of lovers’ tears. What else is love? It’s a wise form of madness. It’s a sweet lozenge that you choke on.”
― William Shakespeare,
By Mandisa Mpulo