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A harrowing fable of love and loss gets a visually stunning staging.
Lookingglass’s evocative production of Federico García Lorca’s 1933 tragedy is a sharp take on a classic Spanish play. When a bride on her wedding day is torn between her groom and her former love, a provincial town is turned upside down by old feuds that echo across generations.
Director Daniel Ostling has chosen to set the play in California during the Great Depression, instead of the rural hills of Andalucía. With original music by Rick Sims, the lyrical pieces of the play are transformed into Depression-era folk songs that are thoughtful and add a bit of levity to the tragic tale. The sparse, wooden set is earthly yet ethereal, fitting for the progression of the play.
The occupants of this world, however, are like most of their names (Bride, Mother, Maid) lacking in specificity. Ostling stages the first act with the entire company in view to create a sense of community and familiarity. But the characters feel as if they’re occupying different worlds. Kareem Bandealy’s Leonardo has the standard flowing locks and confident stance of a forbidden lover, but lacks the fire and passion. Helen Sadler’s waifish Bride is emotionally stilted, even when it comes to Leonardo and her Bridegroom (Chance Bone).
The notable exception is Christine Mary Dunford’s spectacular turn as the Bridegroom’s Mother. Dunford creates a multifaceted character that anchors the play deeply in a sense of loss. Throughout the three acts, her grief builds, until a chorus of women joins her in a harrowing condemnation of violence.
The lack of character development is likely due to Ostling’s inexperience as a director, but his experience as a designer certainly makes up for it. He builds subtle, beautiful tableaus that stick with you long after the lights come back on. Driven by Dunford’s stunning performance and Ostling’s powerful visuals, the production is as hauntingly beautiful as Lorca’s script.
Lookingglass Theatre Company. By Federico García Lorca. Translated by Michael Dewell and Carmen Zapara. Directed by Daniel Ostling. With ensemble Cast. Running Time: 2 hours; two intermissions.