FORMER Canberra director Iain Sinclair has created a compelling production of “Blood Wedding” by Federico García Lorca, which I caught at the closing show at Sydney’s Wharf Theatre on Sunday.
Now seven years away from Canberra, Sinclair, ANU graduate, actor and founding director of Canberra’s innovative Elbow Theatre, made his solo Sydney Theatre Company debut last year as director of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” on the basis of which he was invited by directors Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton to direct “Blood Wedding” for the STC’s 2011 season.
Fluent in Spanish, Sinclair produced a lean, tough new translation of the classic that successfully combined an Australian twang with the fragile poetry for which Lorca is known. That allowed him to range between earthy village realism and intense moments tinged with brooding Spanish melancholy, underpinned by the brooding flamenco guitar of Andrew Veivers.
In the play, a young village bride elopes in the middle of the wedding feast with her now married former lover Leonardo (the only character in the play with a name) during her wedding feast. A pursuit follows into a nightmarish forest and the inevitable deaths of two young men follow.
Towering over the rest of the cast was Leah Purcell as the bridegroom’s mother, who reached the heights of tragedy and the depths of cynicism as she proclaimed the blood-lust of men.
As her son, the nameless bridegroom, Sinclair cast his old collaborator from Elbow Theatre, Kenneth Spiteri, who injected a sometimes wimpy role with a touch of passion.
But the tour de force of the play came in the form of Holly Fraser, a pupil from the McDonald College for Performing Arts. She appeared in the surrealist second act as the blood-craving Moon, a stylised role which presents the desire for revenge as unthinking pre-pubescent entertainment.
Sinclair has obviously been thinking about how he might do this play for a long time. We will watch with interest to see where next his directorial imagination takes him.