- Written by Federico Garcia Lorca
- Directed by Hugo Medrano
- Choreographed by Danilo Rivera and Genoveva Guinn
- Produced by GALA Teatro Hispano
- Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
Blood Wedding. The title tells the story. No surprises, everything is literal, predictable, and straight forward, right? Wrong. Sure the basic storyline is clearly stated in the title and known in literature worldwide. But, Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry is an aural feast that must be experienced for the full effect. GALA’s production of Blood Wedding is a mystical blend of Lorca’s beautiful imagery, authentic Andalusian music, undulating rhythms, even a dazzling taste of flamenco to assure the sizzle factor is caliente. This show is hot.
Based on a real life incident, Blood Wedding reflects Lorca’s intense interest in the conflict between fulfilling societal responsibility and following the desire of one’s heart.
The story line is as familiar as anything that’s served as fodder for soap opera or Telemundo. Unrequited lovers were not allowed to unite because of their vastly different social class. He moves on, marries, starts a family. She goes through the motions of marrying a handsome and loving suitor from a respectable family, the elders exchange gifts and even begin planning how the combined land masses will thrive under the strong and steady hands of potential new offspring. But beneath all the pleasantry, careful strategy and wishful thinking runs a pulsating stream of hurt, anguish, seething-the flowing aftermath of wrong doings of past generations, of pain and suffering that must be reckoned with. As in much of Latin literature, the past is never far from the present and the effects reach unerringly into the future. Add the uncontrollable urges of sexual tension between the forbidden lovers, packaged in the most traditional, conservative trappings of societal propriety, and you’ve got gripping theatre at its finest.
Another strong force running beneath the surface of the action and between the lines is the primordial pull of the natural world on the characters. In addition to references to the earth, water and flowers, the text is filled with images of horses, rendered with sound effects of galloping stallions off stage. Even the moon and death are personified as women lamenting about love, beauty and the inevitability of death. Director Hugo Medrano handles all of these stylized, surreal elements with ease, interweaving the various realities into one satisfying whole.
In addition to the drama, the musical and theatrical artistry add to its crowd pleasing appeal. Medrano lovingly directs a talented cast of actors, singers and dancers who deliver their all. Only GALA could include its own Andalusian version of “Three Mo’ Tenors” along with steamy flamenco. Mel Rocher, one of the guest artists from Spain, adds a distinct flair with his elegant bearing, flawless elocution, and penetrating delivery as the bride’s father. And company member Carlos Castillo portrays Leonardo, the only named character, with moody, understated passion and yearning.
Once the lovers have fled together after the wedding ceremony is over and the chase is on, the core strength of the piece must stand on its own, and it does with rock solid delivery. Frank Vélez, the other guest artist from Spain, as the Bridegroom transforms from being rather mild, even tentative with touches of Momma’s boy tenderness to the ferocious wronged husband, striking out with hurt and fiery hot anger. Karen Morales as the Bride also proves her mettle, relaying a consistent though inexplicable unease with the seemingly perfect marriage proposal and wedding, the pangs of conflict throughout her scenes, with both her betrothed fiancé/husband as well with her unofficial soul-mated love. As the lovers escape through the unforgiving forest, she recounts her illogical yet irrepressible love for him. Despite being in such a stranglehold of passion, she does not portray herself as a hapless victim, but instead, at the end, pulls together enough inner strength to submit herself to the dead groom’s grieving Mother, the same woman whose glance she wilted under during the early, pleasant days of courtship. In the final challenging scene, Morales displays a core inner strength, seethingly strong and adamant attesting purity and innocence. Her dialog with the mother, played to the hilt by the venerable Maria Victoria Peña, is an absolute jewel. Peña’s performance does not have the same theatrical arch and trajectory as the Bride’s, but her every moment is crystal clear, precise, and masterful.
Medrano has been dancing the tango with Lorca for years, having produced the other two rural tragedies La casa de Bernardo Alba and Yerma. His intrinsic love and appreciation for the culture, the music, even the sounds and smells of the region permeate the piece from beginning to end. Following the script as a steady guide, Medrano establishes the facts, sets up the tension, and embellishes the action with just the right touch of music, movement, drama and dance. There just really is nothing else like it.
In its own unique and characteristic style, GALA offers another priceless full fledged Spanish theatrical experience at our doorstep without having to go through flight delays, customs, and TSA security. Blood Wedding is a treasure and is not to be missed.
In Spanish with English surtitles.
- Running Time: 2 hours, with one intermission
- When: Thru April 27th Thursday – Saturday at 8, and Sunday at 3pm.
- Where: Tivoli Theatre, 3333 14th Street, Washington, D.C.
- Tickets: $34
Call: 202-234-7174 or consult the website.