"Blood Wedding" Opens at Westmont
Views 47 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 3 - 1 - 2017 | By: Kathryn Patrick
A lone voice echoes hauntingly across a nearly empty stage. One by one, other voices and instruments join in as all of the cast members appear. Their song swells until, slowly, the noise begins to grow ever softer as characters trickle off, leaving a lone voice: Death’s. Thus begins Westmont College Theater Department’s dark and enticing production of Blood Wedding, a Spanish tragedy written by Federico Garcia Lorca. The play focuses on the story of a Bride (Anna Telfer), who finds her heart painfully torn in two between a forbidden affair with the married Leonardo (Troy Chimuma) and her own upright Groom (Ben Thomas). This is not a typical, cut-and-dry love triangle, but rather an exploration of family bonds, oppressive societal structures, and the wounds that death leaves behind.
Director Mitchell Thomas adds interest to the tragic piece through fascinating visual choices which both capture and hold attention. The set consists of a number of wall panels, which continuously move throughout the production, altering the landscape of the stage. Deeper into the story, each of the three layers of paneling gradually shift to reveal areas of the stage previously hidden. At the very back of the stage stand a number of skeletal outline-like doorways, allowing composed framing of the characters, drawing the viewer’s eye with the symmetry.
Amidst these shifting panels, members of the cast frequently make appearances. They dance, run, and pace across the gaps, or stand silent and motionless, visible behind the back-most doorways. Melanie Bales’s deliberate and provocative choreography build feelings of both discomfort and chaos, movement and physicality playing an integral role.
Johnathan Hicks’s lighting also provides both depth and visual interest, with innovative uses of color. Gold, blue, green, incandescent white, and even glowing stripes on the pillars bathe the stage and characters in mood-creating shades from cheerful to somber, these sudden changes indicating the shift in mood or the introduction of new characters.
Though not a musical, the show does include a number of songs (composed by Eric Ederer), performed by either single characters or a larger ensemble. The production benefits from a cast of talented singers to create everything from joyful refrains to chilling lullabies. The production also incorporates a variety of harsh, discordant sounds to further feelings of unease and underscore the deeply tragic elements of the story.
Blood Wedding’s ensemble cast gives impressive performances from the plucky Servant (Madison Widener), to the graceful, yet volatile Moon (Leslie Duggin), to the morbid Mother (Karly Kuntz), to the increasingly deranged Death (Elena White). With a talented and dedicated cast and visually captivating uses of movement and lighting, Blood Wedding promises to draw audiences further into the thralls of darkness. Blood Wedding will continue to show this weekend with three more performances from March 2–4 at 7:30pm.