JOYCE MCMILLAN on BLOOD WEDDING/IT SNOWS at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman 27.7.11
Blood Wedding 3 stars ***
It Snows 4 stars ****
LORCA’S BLOOD WEDDING is notoriously one of the most difficult plays in the whole classical canon, combining an intensely dramatic story – in which a young bride is driven by erotic obsession to flee from her own wedding, along with the man she truly desires – with episodes of self-conscious modernist symbolism that are notoriously hard to stage.
Nothing, though, daunts the young players of the senior Lyceum Youth Theatre Group, aged 14 and over; and although Steve Mann’s production for last week’s Summer On Stage celebration at the Lyceum comes no closer than most others to solving the problem of how to stage the play’s symbolic sequences, it demonstrates a terrific grasp of the basic outlines of the story, and some formidable performances. Hanni Shinton is staggeringly impressive and mature as the embittered mother of the bridegroom. And although Isla Cowan lacks the vocal range to sustain every detail of the role of the bride, she still brings a real, courageous intensity to this shocking story of a woman so helpless in the face of her own passion that she cannot but bring herself, and two grieving families, to utter ruin.
Blood Wedding was followed, in last weeks’s programme, by a memorably jaunty and touching production of Bryony Lavery and Frantic Assembly’s It Snows, performed by the 10-13-year-old junior LYT group. It Snows is a brief, delicious play with songs and dance about two young teenagers finding their way towards a mutual connection, despite problems with the weather, with their noisy school peer-group, and with the forlorn figure of a little girl who haunts a house in their street. Christie O’Carroll’s production is full of a beautiful, free-flowing energy, as if the 30-strong cast found this simple story a near-perfect vehicle through which to express themselves. And once again, there are a couple of truly admirable lead performances, from Louis Plummer as the lovely, Harry-Potter-like hero Cameron, and Beth Moran as Caitlin, the girl next door who is also the woman of his dreams.