“Blood Wedding’ at Westmont

Westmont Cast Sheds New Light on Garcia Lorca’s Classic Tragedy

Ben Crop

What happens in tragedy? At the level of plot, such familiar formulas as “a reversal of fortune” or “a fall from on high” might seem adequate descriptions, but beyond that, in a real tragedy, there’s always something bigger going on, a sense that something sacred has been profaned, that a trust that can never be restored was breached, and that society will have to live in the resulting fallen state from now on. In Westmont College’s excellent new production of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding, the sense of de-consecration is there from the outset, and evident even in the title. A June wedding? Great. A destination wedding? Sure. Even a small wedding, well, okay. But a “blood” wedding? No thanks!

In this Blood Wedding, the sacrament of marriage is riddled with as many holes as the exquisite lace dress Anna Telfer wears as the Bride. The problem is worse than just that the Bride is not in love with the Groom (Ben Thomas); there’s also some unfinished love business with the brooding and passionate (and married) Leonardo (Troy Chimuma). Yuri Okahana’s ingenious set design employs multiple sliding screens to open and close on three distinct layers of action in the blocking that director Mitchell Thomas has created. Silent actors can be seen moving in counterpoint to the speakers downstage, their gestures and attitudes sometimes reflecting what’s happening in front, and at others contradicting it. The technique takes some getting used to, but for certain scenes, such as the wedding reception, it’s perfect. Later, when the device becomes integrated into the Groom’s frantic search for his missing Bride, it takes on a more profound meaning, suggesting that the social and the subconscious aspects of this mythic drama may somehow be one in the same.

At Westmont College’s Porter Theatre, Fri., Feb. 24. Shows through Mar. 4.

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