I’ve never personally fled on horseback with an ex-boyfriend on my wedding night, yet I still felt connected with the characters’ emotions while watching the most recent Studio play, Blood Wedding, at the University of Alberta. It has all the tell-tale signs of an excellent story: passion, high stakes, and a baby. The only way Blood Wedding could have been better is if they had had a live baby on stage. Now, we all know that even though situations in life vary, emotions are what connect us. So although this play was written in the 1930’s and was originally intended for a Spanish audience, the honest portrayal of emotions paired with its strong storyline connects this foreign play to its modern Canadian audience today.
The central plot-line follows the story of two former sweethearts who try to deny themselves their lustful inclinations. Their life-altering decisions and the repercussions of their actions are what fills the body of this play and eventually brings it full-circle. Blood Wedding is refreshing because it not only focuses on these two old flames but widens its perspective to highlight the stories of the supporting characters as well. This variety of personalities enriches the play and presents the opportunity of bringing it closer to audience members by offering us more to relate to. A door of emotions is cracked open just wide enough to allow its spilling light to illuminate a mother’s bitter sorrow, a strong wife’s understanding of neglect, and the foolish nature of a young bride who follows her love “like a leaf in the wind”.
Even though each character is fantastically unique, they share common ground in that they are relationally interwoven – whether it is by blood, employment, or holy matrimony – and thus everyone is equally affected by the decisions of others. A choice from one impacts them all, not a single character can simply decide to disentangle their feelings from those around them. Blood Wedding mimics real life relationships, which is what makes this play so poignant.
The technical aspects of Blood Wedding are superb; it follows the “simple but classy” rule. Allowing the actors to take elements into their own hands (quite literally), we see a lantern become the moon, which hides behind clouds at death’s command. We recognize morning and evening with a simple and ever-so-gradual changing of lights projected onto the back scrim, and we hear a constant soundtrack portrayed through live voices and recorded tracks. These artistic elements also become increasingly dramatic as the play progresses. What starts as realism exponentially grows into something supernatural and surreal. Choreographed movement gilds the edges of the story without making this play into a dance. Background fight sequences show a constant physical presence of history and emotions; at times it was slightly distracting, but overall it was effective.
Between all this character work and technical brilliance, there are morals to be found: don’t run with scissors – or in this case, knives. Accidents are more likely to happen if you are in possession of a weapon as opposed to being unarmed, be it physically or emotionally. In addition, don’t marry a woman who wants to be with another man. I think there are some great life lessons we can take away from Blood Wedding, if we haven’t learned them already.
Blood Wedding will be playing at the Timms Centre for the Arts for the remainder of the week. All shows begin at 7:30 PM, with an added matinee on Thursday. For more information or to book tickets, please contact the Timms Centre for the Arts:
Box Office: 780.492.2495
Address: 3-146 Fine Arts Building
112 Street and 87 Ave
Photo courtesy of Ed Ellis via the University of Alberta Drama Department