Orange Theatre Group's Blood Wedding Adaptation Is Provocative, Entertaining
The setup: Orange Theatre Group has been working since last summer to develop an experimental theater production inspired by Federico García Lorca's 1933 play Blood Wedding. The show is about two-thirds complete, and that two-thirds is a stunning (yet appropriately bizarre) event that's quite unlikely to be much like anything you've ever seen before. In a good way.
courtesy of Orange Theatre Group From left, Elizabeth Peterson, Colby Terrill, William Crook, Katrina Donaldson, and Carrie Fee are the visible performers of Blood Wedding.
Coincidentally with the company's relocation to a mysterious, James Cameron-esque warehouse alongside the railroad tracks behind Chase Field, its performances have grown in precision and coherence and, at least for the time being, cast trenchant illumination on the revered dramatic texts that serve as ground zero. This is good news for both Orange and most of its potential audience members, because experimental performance that maintains the conventions of character and plot is significantly more accessible to mainstream theatergoers, perhaps helping everyone warm up for even weirder and more important work to come.
The execution: You could prepare for seeing this show by reading a translation of the script, but, refreshingly, the production makes much of the action and mood even more clear than it is on the page, as well as less self-conscious about its symbolism. Lorca hung around with a lot of surrealists, but the tropes of that movement don't typically intrude into his plays except when he shifts into verse or song. (Or stage directions, which include "The Moon is a young woodcutter, with a white face" and "Two violins are heard far off which express the forest." Yikes.)
Even as the actors must meet OTG's typical unusual demands to interact with audiovisual technology, they kick ass as characters who appear to have been conceived as stilted archetypes, bringing them to complex, inescapable life. Katrina Donaldson, as most of the Bride (more on that distinction later), is as compelling, impressively tireless, and somehow also eerily natural as she always is (for example, in her uncredited 2012 PHX:fringe appearance in hair & fingernails).
Elizabeth Peterson (The Seduction of Almighty God, Caroline, or Change) is a juggernaut of wounded pride and regally sloppy emotion as the Mother of the Bridegroom. Both actresses are riveting, both emphasizing and being emphasized by Colleen Lacy's deceptively simple costumes, which are somehow classy, flattering, sex-positive, and kind of industrially oppressive, all at once.