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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, August 31, 2000

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Dancing with knives are Scott Davis, right, as the groom
and Matthew Malliski as Leonardo in "Blood Wedding."

‘Blood Wedding’
tedious exercise

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin

DELETE the entire 10-minute opening segment and the Kennedy Theatre "Primetime Theatre" production of Frederico Garcia Lorca's "Blood Wedding" would still be a tedious exercise in glacial pacing and mind-numbing verbiage. Amber Jo Manuel is directing the show in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Directing. If her intention is to show how excessively long dance segments can suck the life and emotion out of a love tragedy she succeeds. Several languorous vocal performances complete the process.


Bullet What: "Blood Wedding," directed by Amber Jo Manuel
Bullet When: 8 p.m.Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Bullet Where: Earle Ernst Lab Theatre, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Bullet Admission: $9; $7 for students, seniors, military personnel, UH faculty and staff; $3 for UH-Manoa students

Perhaps Lorca's grim look at the fatal results of unleashed passion would play better with less song and dance appended. Perhaps it is far more profound in the original Spanish.

The titular wedding ceremony is barely over when The Bride (Alma Pasic) runs off with her ex-boyfriend, Leonardo (Matthew Malliski). The Bridegroom (Scot Davis) pursues them. Both men end up dead. The Bride survives.

Lorca may have intended Leonardo to be a sympathetic study of a man possessed by passion for his lost love. In this staging however, Leonardo's shabby treatment of his pregnant wife (Susanna Warfield) and his horse register more strongly than his longing for his ex-girlfriend. He doesn't seem much of a prize for either woman. Yes, love can be completely illogical, but while Malliski does a fine job establishing a threatening character there is little sense of a chemistry between Leonardo and The Bride that would drive them to desert their spouses.

Davis personifies callow innocence as the well-to-do young man who doesn't know that the older woman he loves has "a past." He and Malliski are well matched physically as adversaries in fight choreographer Tony Pisculi's slow-mo combat sequences.

The Bride doesn't seem worth dying for. Maybe that's the point of the story.

The single most memorable performance is by Angela Crowley (The Servant Woman). Crowley sings and dances with such a seductive presence that she dominates almost every scene she appears in. Her solo dance segment is the one such piece that doesn't seem twice as long as it should be.

Flamenco guitarists George Cookinham "Pepe El Garza" and Lawrence Grant Arnold Jr. add most effectively to the cultural ambience. Kurt Wurmli (scenic and properties designer) and Vince Liem (lighting design) create interesting environments while Elmira Tereshchenko (The Mother) leads the cast in establishing the aura of doom and gloom that permeates the tale. Overall however this is a wedding that all but hard-core Lorca fans and choreography junkies should opt to avoid.

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