Blood Wedding

Tue 28th April – Sat 2nd May 2015

reviews

Joe Jukes

at 15:33 on 1st May 2015

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0disagrees

Excited to see for myself Blood Wedding’s ‘hauntingly beautiful’ narrative, I managed to catch the third performance of the Mainshow. By the end, I may not have been haunted but my appetite was wholly satiated.

My heart sinks when I see a pre-set stage in Cambridge these days: of course these serve a distinct purpose, but this academic year has seen the vast majority of pieces use this tool and I long to see something new. That said, once Blood Wedding’s stunning soundtrack began rolling and its fluid, synchronised Fates graced the stage, the promise of a more physical ADC Mainshow drew me in.

As a reviewer who laps up physical theatre, I felt a little let down by Blood Wedding’s physicality and movement. It seemed not to enhance the storytelling of the piece, leading to the excellent interweaving of abstract and human characters not being fully appreciated until the start of the second act. What movements were present could have been more finely practised, accentuated and intended. It felt, at times, tokenistic. Paying closer attention to this would have allowed the clearly capable ensemble to shine even more, and was in my eyes, a missed opportunity. I was left feeling hollow, for example, when characters being lead to the slaughter in the woods was left to just an offstage screen, rather than anything more exploratory or symbolic. A separated physicality meant the plot was held in the script, rather than letting physicality and dialogue speak in unison. The physicality nonetheless, made the play the success it was. For it was a success.

In dialogue, the ensemble triumphed. There were no weak links. The group of talented actors, each committed to sharing the beautifully written text, was a joy to watch. Of particular note was Ryan Monk, as Father, with his Northern optimism keeping energy, pace and humour running through the dark and twisting plot. Martha Murphy in her role as Mother was powerful and chilling, giving us the Castilian bitterness and mourning the play requires, which bubbles up to the surface and peaks at the plot’s climax. Alice Carlill, measured, eerie and omniscient as the Moon, was captivating and provided a necessary structure and narration. The musical talents of the ensemble rivalled that of the wonderfully eclectic soundtrack, it must be said, and the echoing harmonies throughout proved unsettling and apt.

Other elements of tech served as compliments to the ensemble, allowing them to be the central focus of the play. This was not a problem given the excellent performances on show though more could have been done with lighting and set, specifically the (real!) woods, to compliment the positive impact music made on the show. The open space created by a relatively minimal set could have been better used by allowing movement to permeate the whole piece, in dialogues as well as in movement sequences: some conversations were performed statically face-to-face, leaving me wanting more.

Please understand that my review is perhaps overly critical because I recognise how close this play came to flawlessness. Blood Wedding is surely not to be missed, with its refreshing take on an older text on the Cambridge scene. It delivered the more alternative storytelling we all need to see on the ADC stage. Dance, movement, music and acting came together to provide a fantastically abstract and horrifically delightful play. But this piece could have been perhaps more abstract and experimental. It is without doubt that I highly recommend Blood Wedding as an exemplar piece of theatre, but I do so with a pinch of salt, craving the extra flair I know it can provide.

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