Theatre Review: Blood Wedding


Katy Leverett reviews DramaSoc’s performance of Blood Wedding

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Image by University of York DramaSoc

By Katy Leverett

On 19 November 2023, the last night of the play’s weekend run, the packed audience in the Drama Barn sat with much anticipation to see DramaSoc’s latest weekly show: Blood Wedding. Going into the performance, I knew little about the show except what I had googled. Yet as The Mother (Pippa Owen) sat polishing knives on stage as the audience filtered in – an important symbol within the play, we would later find out – the tension felt palpable.
Blood Wedding is a Spanish tragedy written in 1932 by dramatist Federíco Garcia Lorca. The play was later translated into English. This particular performance by DramaSoc was directed by Caitlin Sydney and produced by Elizabeth Winstanley from a translation by J. Graham-Luan and R. O’Connell.
The play follows the story of a marriage between two characters simply named The Bride (Chloe Lansdowne) and The Groom (Tommy Harris). It is soon revealed, however, that despite their upcoming wedding, The Bride is being watched by a former suitor, Leonardo (Vincent Klein). The Bride and Leonardo clearly still have feelings for each other – something both actors portrayed excellently, with incredible tension both physically and in their speech.
Despite their longing for one another, Leonardo is married to The Wife (Lotte Tielemans), who spends much time caring for their baby. The pair also provided mild comic relief regarding Leonardo’s obsession with horse riding, which was met with laughter from the audience.
The plot was regularly interspersed with poetic sequences performed by various characters, including The Wife, The Mother-in-Law (Valeria Calderón) and The Youths (Ellie Carrier, Abs Mortimer, and Amy Warburton). These moments allowed the audience to pause and reflect on both what had happened and what was to come, accompanied by beautifully acted and symbolic imagery.
Once the wedding day arrives, The Bride and The Groom do marry, but an interaction with Leonardo causes The Bride to run away with him. The two families enter a state of panic and begin searching for the pair, stating that if the moon comes out, they will be able to find them. This leads to an appearance by The Moon (Teddy Todd-Hinton), who reveals to the audience that blood will be spilled. Death (Alexiane Charlery-Warner) then enters the stage, requesting The Moon give light so they may carry out their work. The slow pacing of both characters on stage provided an eerie foreshadowing of what was to come for the families.
After much searching, The Groom meets Death, who leads him to Leonardo and The Bride. The Bride and Leonardo share a passionate argument about the fate that awaits them, whilst also declaring their love for each other. Again, both actors created incredible tension on stage. Before blood is spilled, Death and The Moon appear on stage together once more with two candles, circling each other before blowing the candles out and leaving the audience in darkness. This clever use of props symbolised the death of the two men; ironically, the audience does not see any blood spilled in Blood Wedding, yet it is the ties of blood that had set up the doomed ceremony.
After the climax, sorrowful characters reappear on the stage. The Mother weeps whilst The Youths and The Servant (Janet Stainforth) look forlorn, and The Father (Zac Ribbins) is dumbfounded. The Bride then enters, her wedding dress covered in blood, and The Mother, having already lost a husband and her other son, cannot withhold her anger toward The Bride. Both actors delivered heart-wrenching monologues before the stage went dark, and the performance concluded.
Blood Wedding was an expertly delivered performance with all actors keeping the tension almost visible to touch throughout. Whilst some lines were performed a little quietly at moments, this dulls in comparison to the rest of the performance. The stage set-up was also done very well. The vine-like curtain against the wall acted as both the vineyard in the first half, and the forest in the second. Moreover, the three chairs used for dialogue in the first half of the play were simple but effective staging, which immersed the audience in the plotline.
Blood Wedding was a thoroughly good watch and I look forward to seeing what DramaSoc produces next!
Writer’s Note: Blood Wedding was performed 17-19 November 2023 in the Drama Barn as one of DramaSoc’s weekly plays. To find out more about their upcoming shows, visit the following link: Drama Society, University of York Student's Union event tickets from TicketSource.