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“90 MINUTES OF PASSION AND VIOLENCE” proclaims the marquee atop Source theater, presumably because “100 MINUTES OF POETRY AND SYMBOLISM” is a harder sell, even if it’s at least as accurate. The violence occurs off-stage in Constellation’s production of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding, but its scars are present from the 80-year-old Spanish classic’s opening scene, where Deidra LeWan Starnes’ Mother still grieves so deeply for her slain husband that she won’t let their son, the Groom (a charming Mark Halpern), carry a knife to work in the vineyards. And passion? Check. Unhappily married Leonardo (a feverish and convincing Dylan Myers) knew the Bride (Victoria Reinsel) when she used to rock ‘n’ roll, to quote the great English tragedian Nick Lowe. Once Leo turns out be spying on the Groom’s betrothed, the show shakes off the cobwebs of its listless beginning and acquires a hypnotic sense of morbid inevitability.
Matthew Pauli, our narrator in this translation, is an eerie personification of death, his bug eyes and rictus grin gleaming beneath his black hat and veil as he circles the human characters like a guardian angel gone rogue. Julie Garner and Will Cooke each find fun layers in their roles as the Bride’s servant and father, respectively: She rolls on her back, waxing about the carnal delights of new matrimony while he’s more fixated on the outcome. “Your son’s strong; my daughter’s sturdy,” he tells Starnes during their stilted prenup meet-and-greet, like he’s kicking the tires of a car.
Starnes has the toughest part here. It’s a shame she doesn’t find any ballast for the breast-beating histrionics required of her. This tragedy would feel more, well, tragic if ever she evinced a sliver of hope that things could turn out well. As is, her character seems to have read the play.
Lisi Stoessel’s canny, minimalist set suggests both a prosperous villa and, later, a spooky forest on a budget—I especially like the way the slanted, asymmetric lines of the black-and-white floorboards evoke the long shadows in paintings by Dalí and Miró. The mournful score, composed by Mariano Vales and performed by guitarist Behzad Habibzai with support from Pauli and the company, provides some much-needed beauty and tenderness before the Bride and Groom begin their march down the aisle, like lambs to the—uh, buffet line? No such luck.