The setup: Orange Theatre's industrially flavored, iconoclastic mounting of Lorca's
If that alone doesn't sound like fun (and if so, understandably -- a lot of people prefer not to witness the making of sausage, either), you're in luck, because the show is still densely packed with complex characters who strut and romp through a Home Depot-y wonderland, managing to symbolize concepts like lust and vengeance while also representing real people.
The execution: It's actually a bit disappointing to see this production's rough, sprawling design confined to ASU Tempe's Lyceum stage after having been exposed to what appeared to be limitless vistas at Levine Machine. But Orange is good at saying goodbye and moving on, so we can do it too.
The video monitors have become contemporary flat screens (I can think of a lot of reasons that that might have made life easier), and the playing area in general feels sleeker, partly because we can see its limits. Back over on the overwhelming side, the amplifed sounds (such as footsteps -- which here give the impression of live Foley effects) pervade more of the soundtrack than before, so that when giant, searingly bright stadium-style lights pop on from stage right and left, their chonking noise feels almost natural.
If you'd asked me, I would've said Katrina Donaldson (the Bride) couldn't act with any more ferocity, and that was with Carrie Fee providing virtually all of the sound of her voice. (Hard to imagine? Think of a cartoon but with real people, or a voice actor dubbing a film in a foreign language, except it isn't a foreign language.) But somehow, not only does Fee have more roles now in which she appears onstage as not-Bride, she and Donaldson have created a Bride who -- despite sounding a lot like Betty Boop -- even further belies the stereotype of the squeaky-voiced woman, convincing us just how self-aware and uncontrollable her passion is.
The verdict: Unless you're a big ol' theater person or a big ol' supporter of Orange Theatre in particular, you might not be super-excited about seeing all three chapters, as it were, of Blood Wedding. But I attended this and the previous one, and I know a lot of you weren't there. Depending what ASU's underclasspersons and MFA candidates (and Chris Danowski) are working at any given moment, Orange is the only experimental theater company the Valley has (If you're another one, write me an e-mail!). So it merits going.
The other thing we have to do is recognize the artists who make this a production "after" the play by Federico García Lorca instead of just "of" it. As I'm afraid I often have to cut to the chase and say, the rest of the actors were great, and the set, sound, and lighting are powerful and precise. Joya Scott's fresh translation from Spanish is rough-edged and poetic at the same time, and Barbara Tolbert's original score is remarkable enough without having been composed by a student of UC Hastings College of the Law. Which it was.
Blood Wedding continues through Sunday, July 27, at Lyceum Theatre on the ASU Tempe campus, 901 South Forest Mall. Admission is pay-what-you-can; Orange Theatre suggests you consider paying a wee bit more to help out audience members who can't afford to pay much. You can reserve your seat through www.artful.ly/store/events/3620. For more information, call 602-456-0684.
-- Julie Peterson