Photos – Jeff Busby
I have somewhat of a confession to make in reviewing this production of the Malthouse's Blood Wedding. I know Blood Wedding all too well – having acted as the Bride in a year eleven school production. Ever since, I have wanted to see a professional production of it, to see a professional company capture the intensity of Federico Garcia Lorca's writing. Unsurprisingly, Marion Potts' production brings Lorca to life in a way that my teenage classmates and I could not (although watching the production brought up many fond and funny memories).
Potts directs an excellent bi-lingual production, sidestepping the pitfalls of a complete translation by including much of the original Spanish. Raimondo Cortese is responsible for the clever adaptation, which seamlessly melds together English and Spanish. The Spanish language emphasises and heightens the lyricism of Lorca's poetry. The unfortunate pay-off, however, is that the lyricism of the Spanish language and accent also emphasise the flatness in tone of the Australian accent. This is, of course, not much of a pay-off, but it is always hard to hear your own drawl reflected back at you.
The set design, by the triple talented, The Sisters Hayes (also the costume designers), is very effective in conveying the oppressive sense of heat, and longing, which pervades the play. I am often a little put off when I see a set like the one in this production; sometimes I just wish a set could be beautiful. The set is, however, very effective, cleverly contrasting old and new, with burnt, dry earth set against the hum of blue-lit fridges. While effective, the fridges were a little distracting at the climax. In the large open space of the Merlyn Theatre at the Malthouse, the three grieving women and their voices were a bit lost against the hum and florescent lights.
Nonetheless, Mariola Fuentes was brilliant as the grieving Mother. Her constant worrying clearly resonated with the audience (who hasn't got a mother who fusses and worries?). Her strained voice also created a sense of the inevitability of tragedy. Silvia Colloca as the Bride and Matias Stevens as Leonardo, however, lacked the sense of barely constrained passion that these characters require. For me, the minor characters, in particular Ivan Donato as the Moon and Ruth Sancho Huerga as the Servant were the highlight of the production. Donato has a lovely presence and singing voice, relishing Tim Rogers Spanish inspired musical score. Huerga was the standout, her energy and vitality, along with her comic timing, providing a welcome counterpoint to the intensity of the play.
The Malthouse continues to push the boundaries of conservative theatre in Melbourne, making interesting and powerful production choices. Potts' production is a success in its scaling of language, culture, and time.
Malthouse Theatre presents
by Federico García Lorca | adapted by Raimondo Cortese
Director Marion Potts
Venue: Merlyn Theatre
Dates: 21 July – 19 August 2012
Tickets: $58 – $41
Bookings: www.malthousetheatre.com.au | 03 9685 5111