There's something to be said for harmony, that perfect noise produced when different notes and instruments come together in a way that is unquestionably intentional and lovely. When the ensemble cast of Blood Wedding opened their mouths to sing for the first time during last Friday night's show, it all became clear. The vocal arrangement was haunting, and in combination with the impeccable choreography as well as the poetic dialogue of playwright Frederico Garcia Lorca, the result was beautifully unified. Scattered throughout this production of Lorca's original 1932 play, these musical additions to the original story resonate powerfully. Other additions and directorial choices did so much less.
The show, directed by Carolyn Anderson and Will Bond, follows various members of two wealthy families as they prepare for the doomed wedding between an unnamed bride and groom (Patrick Stanny '15 and Alex Chernin '15). Despite the ostensible tenderness and innocence of their love, darker forces threaten the day of their union. Leonardo (Henry Hetz '15), the bride's former sweetheart and a man already married to a loving wife (Miranda Park '17), arrives on the day of the wedding to declare his undying love and passion for the bride. As the moment of "I do" draws nearer, repressed desires are revealed, years of deception start to unravel, and the traditions that have so long held a culture together begin to crumble. Set against the backdrop of the Spanish civil war, the play is a beautiful marriage between Lorca's storytelling and his poetic voice.
Skidmore's production of Blood Wedding is the product of a Lorca-centered class taught last fall by the show's directors. For the cast and crew, producing this play has been a collaborative effort involving countless hours of research into the life of the man who wrote it. Despite the fitting tragedy that Lorca's life ended in, their attempt to incorporate it into the plot was one of the few unharmonious additions to the script. Scenes were periodically interrupted with brief radio clips discussing the Spanish Civil War and Lorca's grizzly end. Though an interesting idea, the actual words spoken during the clips were difficult to hear and the significance of an additional scene that represented Lorca's actual death was lost on much of the audience. These were a few of the productions less harmonious additions.
In spite of that, much of the ensemble cast gave terrific performances. In particular, the female leads were a pleasure to watch. As the neurotic, grief-stricken mother of the bride, Hallie Christine was successfully frightening, the misery and disgust over the loss of her son audible in every word. Her strong presence carried the show's awkwardly staged opening scene impressively and her rare moments of humor, playing opposite the bride's father (Woodrow Proctor '16) were perfectly absurd and lightened the heavy show. Park played Leonardo Felix's long-suffering wife with an impressive, quiet intensity. One of the finest moments of acting was when Park stood alone on the stage after a fight with her husband, her face that of a woman faltering on the edge of tears as she holds both hands to the unborn child in her womb. Her small but powerful displays of emotion were a well-executed contrast to Chernin's wildly passionate, deeply disturbed bride. During her fits of outrage toward Leonardo as well as her strained moments of sweet, politeness to her betrothed, Chernin projected an air of danger. Watching her character gave off an effect similar to watching someone wave a loaded gun, wondering when and at whom it will finally go off. The final scene between Chernin and Christine was as fiery as it was gorgeously quiet and sad.
Will Clark '16 also had an incredible performance. Never before has a person performed so well underneath so unfortunate of a costume choice. The sparkly top and flared pants, not to mention body glitter, that he donned for his role as the moon looked more like very excited disco dancer than the moon.
Still, the vocal arrangements stole the show despite these fine performances. Orchestrated by Madeline Emerick '15, the music was beautiful, unsettling, and perfectly integrated into key moments of emotional potency. The ensemble sung so softly and so beautifully blended that notes and words seemed to linger in the air, resonating even in the moments after they'd stopped singing in a way that perfectly complimented the poetry of Lorca's words. Ah, harmony.