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A CurtainUp Review
For its inaugural season, Marvell Repertory Theatre is producing Blood Wedding in rotating repertory with The Dybbuk by S. Ansky, Ingmar Bergman's adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House and J. M. Synge's In the Shadow of the Glen. This is quite a challenge for such a new company, but given the skill with Blood Wedding was handled, the company may indeed be equal to it. (Confirmed by Deirdre Donovan's r review of the Ibsen/Synge double header).
Based on a newspaper account of a bride who ran off with her lover on the night of her wedding, Blood Wedding turns symbolism, poetic dialogue and folklore into a tragedy of mythic proportions. It is a play about passion and duty, the individual and society, destiny and free will, life and death.
Lenny Leibowitz, artistic director or Marvell Rep, helms this piece with a steady hand. Although he uses original music by Adam Knauss and choreography by Katie Ostrowski to great effect, for the most part he lets Lorca's magnificent dialogue speak for itself. Tijana Bjelajac's minimal set gives the audience just enough to let the imagination take flight.
Although the acting in Blood Wedding is somewhat uneven, fortunately, the two principals, Lorraine Serabian as the Mother and Evgeniya Radilova as the bride, are superb.
Serabian speaks like a prophet when she recounts the deaths of her husband and elder son. When her younger son announces his wish to marry a local girl who had previously been courted by another, Serabian's fearful acceptance foreshadows a tragic end. But at the same time, Serabian seems to be mourning for the entire world. It's easy to see her in a Greek tragedy, and her bio does indeed include a generous sprinkling of Euripides.
Radilova, who was born in Bulgaria to an theatrical family, has an unfamiliar accent that works perfectly in this production. She also has the rare gift of portraying uncontrolled passion without making it look ridiculous. Her character's struggle with her emotions is painfully visible and vividly real.
Marvell Rep has neither the money nor the stage to recreate the galloping horses of escaping lovers or the wild celebration of the ill-fated wedding, but Leibowitz makes the audience see and feel the offstage action with all the skill of the ancient Greeks. The final struggle, which is onstage, is so intense the audience should imagine rivers of blood, which is far more powerful than more explicit violence.
Such a success for such a young company is truly encouraging. It's certainly refreshing to see a young company mixing innovative techniques and classic work so well.