Blood Wedding

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Editorial Review

Magic isn't quite therein this 'Blood Wedding'
By Nelson Pressley
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012

Ah, the high ceremony and doom of Federico Garcia Lorca's "Blood Wedding": You can hear it in the opening notes of Mariano Vales's original music for Constellation Theatre's new production. Behzad Habibzai plucks his flamenco guitar and you sit up straight, as if you've just heard a rattlesnake's warning.

It turns out to be a false alarm, for this "Blood Wedding" slacks off almost as soon as it begins. Lorca's 1933 tragedy chronicles irresistible passion and a deep family feud, and it does so in a highly poetic style that eludes much of this show.

The characters are archetypes: the severe Mother, the handsome Groom, the furtive young Bride, etc. (Other figures include the Moon, played by Anastasia Wilson in layers of sheer white fabric, and Death, portrayed by Matthew Pauli with black netting around his face.) Only Leonardo, the hot-tempered rival for the Groom's fiancee, has a name.

The fable is a sequence of small moments and grand gestures, but the size and abruptness of Lorca's style hasn't really been mastered by director Shirley Serotsky and her cast. An exception is Mark Halpern's appealingly composed turn as the Groom; Halpern glows with anticipation at Victoria Reinsel's nervous Bride, and his economy and magnetism play beautifully.

The rest of the performances don't convince, and it's especially difficult to overcome the miscasting of Deidra LaWan Starnes in the pivotal role of the Mother. Starnes is a supple, powerful actor, but she's far too young for the part. Her put-on stiffness is a distraction that undercuts the potential spell of the piece.

Then suddenly, about two-thirds through, the show begins to work. Leonardo (a sullen Dylan Myers) seduces the Bride; the stage darkens; a shadowy forest magically takes over Lisi Stoessel's set design. The rivalry heats up, but too late - the show's fate has already been sealed.