Reviewed by Tony Villecco
Federico Garcia Lorca was one of the true literary wonders of the 20th century, his life cut short by Spain’s Civil War of 1936 when he was brutally assassinated. More tragic than his death perhaps is the fact we will never know what literary output would have been forthcoming. Lorca himself stated he was still learning his craft and that his work “ha” just begun.” We can, however, rejoice that his poetry and plays are still being presented. A new translation of his “Blood Wedding,” the brainchild of Santino DeAngelo and Marty Murray, opened for the public last night (July 28) at Know Theatre in Binghamton.
Directed by DeAngelo and Bobby Daglio, the show has some wonderful moments and flights of true creativity, if not always consistent throughout. “Blood Wedding,” in its new translation, makes no apologies for exposing Lorca’s details of love, lust, sadness and death; life’s components spilled out on what had been an actual tragedy he had read of in a newspaper.
Suffice to say without spoiling the plot that it’s a much darker themed “Romeo and Juliet” or perhaps even “West Side Story” on speed. DeAngelo has written a haunting musical score to boot, with some very effective moments throughout the piece. DeAngelo,, a mere 20, is destined for great things and one has to ask if are we looking at the next Sondheim.
Dori May Ganisin as the tormented mother, while committed to her task, failed to catch fire until the very end when she finally develops that cool sense of detachment with all the has enfolded. Many great lines were hers but this in particular — “while one lives, one struggles” — summed up the play’s intent. Co-director Daglio was a confident and convincing Groom. His self-control with the mother’s nagging was palpable.
Benjamin Williamson as Leonardo was excellent. He conveyed not only the characters human flaws, but his sincere love for the forbidden Bride of Wendy Abels. Abels, though somewhat understated, made a convincing turn as the woman who is torn but ultimately pays the price when the action she takes has a solemn consequence.
Tim Gleason was also very good as the Father; a man of conviction who blindly faces the future with no regard for the past. The supporting women — Dara Kramer as the maid and Joanna Patchett as the neighbor — successfully conveyed not only their sexual frustration but the fragility one needs to love, a component as relevant today as when Lorca first penned this play. One very apropos line by the maidjumped out:”Marriage is the bed and the bedroom.”
Shannon DeAngelo sang a haunting lullaby as the Mother-In-Law with Suzannah Herschkowitz as the long-suffering wife of Leonardo. Death was portrayed by Dinah Tennant. Special mention should be made of the Greek Chorus of sorts, called here Duende: Dustin Hirthler, Jake Wentlent and Jonathan Molyneaux.
The performance, not without minor flaws, was overall very good and what DeAngelo and Murray have achieved is truly an inspiring piece of theater. But the real reason for rejoicing is the re-evaluation and uncovering of the genius of Lorca’s works, which once banned but now have an indelible place in the world of the theater.
NOTE: Performances continue at 8 p.m. July 29 and 30 and 2 p.m. July 31 at Know Theatre, 74 Carroll St., Binghamton. Call 754-6352.
(Editor’s Note: “Blood Wedding” is funded in part by a 2011 project grant from the United Cultural Fund, a program of the Broome County Arts Council.)