by Lynn on March 16, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Federico Garcia Lorca
Translated by Langston Hughes
Directed and choreographed by Soheil Parsa
Scenography by Trevor Schwellnus
Costumes by Angela Thomas
Sounds and composed by Thomas Ryder Payne
Starring: Lara Arabian
Steven Bush
Sochi Fried
Carlos Gonzalez-Vio
Mina James
Derek Kwan
Jani Lauzon
Sebastian Marziali
Liz Peterson
Beatriz Pizano
Chiamaka G. Ugwu
Bahareh Yaraghi

A production throbbing with heat, sweat, lust, uncontrollable passion and exquisite poetry.

The Story. A young man (referred to as ‘Boy’ in the program) is going to marry a young woman (‘Girl’ in the program). His mother (Mother) is mournful because her husband will not be there to share the joy. He was killed in a vendetta by a member of a family always at odds with the Boy’s family. The Mother holds her hatred close to her. She seethes with rage because of it. She mixes the rage with love for her Boy.

Girl, the intended bride, is ecstatic about the wedding. She can hardly wait. But there is a cloud lurking in the background. Years before she was courted by Leonardo, a macho, hot-headed young man. He wanted to marry her but his pride prevented him. He married someone else. That is a rocky marriage. All he can think of is Girl now that she is set to marry. To make matters more unsettling, Leonardo comes from the family that killed Boy’s father. Now Leonardo and his wife are invited to the wedding. Emotions, anger, lust, the need for revenge and uncontrolled passion take over.

The Production. The scenography by Trevor Schwellnus is spare but artful. There are strategically placed panels of bubbled glass upstage. You can see characters pass behind the panels but you can’t see who they really are. Moody lighting also adds to a slightly forbidding atmosphere. This establishes a sense of mystery. At the same time there is a sense of characters hiding in the shadows trying to overhear characters speak, or lurking to keep a character in their sights. Leonardo always seems to be watching out for Girl, perhaps even stalking her.

The direction by Soheil Parsa is economical but very effective. Parsa knows the value of stillness in getting a point across. The need for revenge, the harbouring of ill-feelings and pent-up rage hangs in the air at the beginning of the production. It is like an overbearing cloud in the lives of the characters. Frustration is almost everywhere. Leonardo is not happy in his marriage. He yearns for someone else. His wife just wants him and she knows she has a rival. Mother sees only darkness, even on a joyful day as her Boy’s wedding. Initially Boy is the only one really who is looking forward to his marriage but then he too succumbs. Rage gives way to lust and throbbing emotion.

You can feel the heat popping off Beatriz Pizano as Mother, as she stands stark-still centre stage, her anger mounting as she recounts the many injustices her family has endured, not the least of which is the death of her husband. Rather than turning away in revulsion, you are compelled to listen because of this masterful, mesmerizing performance. This is a performance of subtle variation.

As Wife, Sochi Fried is solicitous of her husband, always trying to appease him, win him over from his dark moods. Something as simple as her eyes darting as she realizes how distant her husband is from her, grips you. Wife is at sea. She is losing her husband to his first love and there is nothing she can do except then to be forceful and desperate.

As Leonardo, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio is tight-muscled, consumed with unease and compelled to get Girl back in his life. Everything about this man says power and danger. He grinds the heels of his boots down noisily on the ground as walks. Everybody knows he’s coming. His sleeves are rolled tight up his arms. There is no softness in this man’s life and it all comes out in Gonzalez-Vio’s performance. The woman he lusts after is of course Girl. As Girl, Bahareh Yaraghi at first is demure, joyful at the prospect of her impending marriage, giddy with her fiancée. But as Leonardo makes his presence more and more obvious, her feelings become conflicted and she has to face her unsettled emotions.

As the whole fabric of family, society and tradition unravel and raging emotions take over. you get the sense of relentless racing towards the inevitable in this bracing production.

Comment. Federico Garcia Lorca was no stranger to living a life in upheaval. He has put all that pent up emotion in Blood Wedding, one of the great classics of the twentieth century. It is a play bursting with the most breathtaking poetry, thanks to the beautiful translation of Langston Hughes—who knew a think or two about poetry himself. But it’s that mix of out of control emotions and the poetry that moves the play like a galloping horse (a vivid symbol in the play), leaving you breathless at the end.

Produced by Modern Times Stage Company in a co-production with Aluna Theatre

Opened: March 13, 2015
Closes: March 29, 2015
Cast: 12: 4 men, 8 women
Running Time: 90 minutes

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