By Frank Portillo
“Blood Wedding” could have been a great way to spend the holiday season, but the play fails to overcome mediocrity due to weak performances and a lackluster ending.
The latest Theater Department production follows two characters that are in love with each other but are being pulled apart by society. Leonardo is married with a child but still lusts over the character known only as The Bride. When he learns that The Bride is being married off to another man, he makes one last attempt at winning her affection. On the night of her wedding, the two run away and are chased by the townspeople, who want to murder Leonardo.
“Blood Wedding” has an ominous tone, which is perfectly fitting for the Halloween season. The main character, Leonardo, spends a lot of time riding a horse in the play. The costume design for the horse is one of the creepiest things ever created and looks like something out of a nightmare. In the costume is Armando Torres, whose horse noises didn’t help ease the creep factor. Torres is certainly dialed in as the horse.
There is a great deal of foreshadowing throughout this production. Before the play commences, the stage is backlit blue, giving the audience members a hint at the sadness of the story or at least what the audience should feel like as a result of the play. In a story that demands emotion from all the actors involved, it becomes obvious when they fail to elicit any emotional reactions.
At the top of the play, actors rush from behind the audience members in the stand wearing masks that cover the top half of their faces. The masks are worn by every character besides the two leads and take some getting used to, as they initially resembled the masks used by the murderers in the 2008 film, “The Strangers.”
Leonardo is played by Michael Moretta, who has appeared in previous productions on campus. Moretta is always entertaining on stage and this performance is no different. The anger that the character feels while watching his love interest be married off to someone else is perfectly conveyed to the audience in his subtle body language. His character walks the line between protagonist and antagonist as he is the main focus of the story, but ends up being his own obstacle.
His love interest, The Bride, is played by Miriam Menendez. The success of the play, for the most part, lies on the shoulders of the two main performers. Moretta delivers, but Menendez seems to have trouble with inflecting the anguish that she’s experiencing. In the moments that demand raw emotion, she holds back on her performance as she is unable to evoke any emotion from the audience during her crucial scenes.
During the conclusion, The Bride fails to deliver a monologue that is meant to contain a great amount of emotional weight.
“Blood Wedding,” coming in at 90 minutes, does an excellent job of establishing the vast cast of characters. Characters become so well established, that it’s disappointing when the conclusion unfolds. By the time the plot is revealed and all the pieces are put into place, the narrative takes a dramatic turn.
Throughout the play, flamenco dancers are brought to life by Edward Navarrete and Jasia Alyezza Topete. The dancers use choreography to set up the plot of the play. The passion of the dancers as they come together, then driven apart is whats demanded by the roles of the two lead characters. The play closes with a powerful, loud scream of anguish by the female dancer, who represents The Bride’s emotions.
“Blood Wedding” features very poetic dialogue that gets lost in some of the actors’ deliveries. It feels as though some of the actors didn’t understand the content. Not understanding the content resulted in some of the actors not delivering their lines in a natural way. The ones who did, however, excelled in their performances.
The best performer-of-the-night award goes to Rachel Peralta, who plays the sexual Maid. Her performance and line delivery fit perfectly within the play and will have audiences laughing in each of her scenes.
While the plot was a great idea, it wasn’t executed successfully. Instead of having a system in place, actors were getting tired and the clapping went from adding to the experience to being distracting. The clapping was no longer timed perfectly or loud enough for the entire audience to hear.
“Blood Wedding” runs through the weekend from Thursday to Sunday, with matinee showings on Friday and Sunday. Evening showtimes begin at 8 p.m. and matinee begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the East Los Angeles College website under the “events” tab or in P2-101A for ten dollars, or $12 at the door. Four dollar discounts are available for members of the Associated Students Union.