Fantastical drama, Blood Weddings, plays on the Toronto stage
Blood Weddings, a joint production from Modern Times Stage Company and Aluna Theatre, now onstage at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, traces the bloody family history of several Spanish families involved in a love triangle. With the help of solid acting and an evocative set, this poetic play eventually won me over.
Purely because of my personal theatre preferences, it took a little while for me to warm up to Blood Weddings. The play starts off as a realistic drawing-room drama revolving around family history, talk of an engagement, and social niceties — not a style of theatre that I especially enjoy.
Although these first few scenes between Mother (Beatriz Pizano) and Boy (Derek Kwan) were well performed, I thought they felt a bit long. However, I realized later that these scenes were crucial to humanizing Boy; without them, he would later have been reduced to a one-dimensional vengeful husband.
The story revolves around Girl (Bahareh Yaraghi) and her impulsive decision to leave her new husband Boy (Derek Kwan) for her former lover Leonardo (Carlos González-Vio). I found it difficult to invest emotionally in the relationship between Girl and Leonardo because they interacted very little onstage before running away together; I was told about their romantic connection rather than seeing it for myself, and therefore found it more difficult to care about.
As the wedding got underway, however, the fantastic began to mingle with the real. By the end of the play, as characters Moon (Sochi Fried) and Death (Carla Melo) took to the stage, we had entered a vivid supernatural landscape of grief and forgiveness. My friend Una and I greatly enjoyed this shift in tone; we thought the fantastic elements effectively highlighted the story’s mixture of violence and passion.
The fantastical tone of this play matched its language, which was heightened and poetic rather than realistic. I found this distracting at times — notably when Wife (Sochi Fried) addressed her baby as “Little Pink” — but for the most part, I thought the poetic language helped paint the scene. With help from the beautiful costumes and versatile set, I felt transported into the world of the play.
The large cast gave great performances all around. Beatriz Pizano displayed an intriguing combination of passion and stoic restraint in her role as Mother, and I also particularly enjoyed the humour that Jani Lauzon brought to her small but memorable roles as Neighbour and Servant. More than anything, the lively atmosphere of the wedding scene was a highlight of the evening for me.
Overall, I liked Blood Weddings well enough, but I seldom felt deeply connected to the characters. While Blood Weddings had a great set and costumes, my lack of emotional connection to the play ultimately left me less than satisfied.
- Blood Weddings is playing until March 19, 2017 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street)
- Shows run Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm
- Ticket prices range from $18 – $30, with PWYC on Sundays; see website for pricing details
- Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 416-975-8555
Photo by Brian Damude