Lorca’s 1932 play entices us into a world of feuding families, high passion, and warm-hearted yet poignant and painful connection with the elemental forces of fate and desire. The plot revolves around a marriage caught up in a blood feud: a groom is to marry a bride who has previously been in love with a man related to the man who murdered the groom’s father. The marriage goes ahead but the attraction between the bride and her previous lover is rekindled with fatal consequences.
This performance is high-spirited and volatile. The quick-fire exchanges of the actors and the small stage surrounded by doors, which mark the cut and thrust of different entrances and exits, leave the audience feeling on edge and hooked into an intimate domestic drama. Particularly strong are the emotionally profound performances from Jack Hardwick as the groom and Lynsey Beauchamp as the mother. Anna Bamberger’s performance as the Bride develops in a fascinating way throughout the play.
The intensity of the cast’s involvement with the musical and dance aspects of the production is admirable, transporting us imaginatively to the hot and dusty south of Spain and the production is excellent at being unapologetic about the presence of imagery – for example, death, played convincingly by Miles Yekinni, continually slides around the stage – and at taking a collective leap of imagination with very few props or external devices to support this. The play seems to emerge quite directly from the minds of the players and is refreshingly engaging and experimental, by contrast with more moneyed, perhaps slicker and less dynamic productions of the West-end.
The play is translated from Spanish by Tanya Ronder. The English version keeps the simplicity and directness of the Spanish but might have benefited from keeping some of the Spanish in the text to keep an even closer connection with the original. Brace the storms outside to see this show!