In a cross-departmental trip, both the Hispanists and the dramatists were bundled into a bus for a brief four hour journey to London. After a few plodding hours, the bus suddenly stopped mid-road and street lights glaring, horns blaring, we were thrust out into the cold night air of London. It was thus that we dragged ourselves into the theatre, our heads still churning with that nauseous fatigue which is so characteristic of school bus journeys. Little did we know how violently these few steps would wrench us out of our drowsiness.
Upon entering the room, our eyes are instantly seized by a scarlet smear which stretched the length of a stage which is broken only by the shadow of a crucifix. The thick accents of the characters transport us to rural Ireland, where we are immersed in a catholic community ravaged by suspicion, ancestral pride and social hostility. The contemptuous words uttered by the groom’s mother about the brother’s Felix establish the hateful atmosphere which is to suffocate the stage for the rest of the play, and reaches its climax as what should be a joyous nuptial ceremony turns into a bloodbath. We learn early on, that the groom’s father and brother were murdered by the Felix clan after they raped one of their daughters. Nonetheless, further complication arises when it is discovered that the bride has been involved with one of these Felix brothers and is still madly in love with him. The bridegroom’s mother warns with a tone thick with foreboding that nothing good can come of this, and haunting folk melodies sung by the moon in a hypnotic mix of Spanish and English create a mood of tragedy. As it was foreseen, the bride elopes with her lover on the wedding day and the groom, fuelled by a savage anger at the injustices of both past and present, hunts them down, pledging to kill Leonardo who has stolen his bride. When they finally clash in a flurry of knives, they both receive fatal wounds, and heart-broken and filled with self-loathing, the Bride resigns herself to Death. This gruesome scene is not masked by the night’s darkness, but instead the moon beams at her fullest, the red blaring in its stark light.
The play was a brilliant adaptation and the substitution of rural Ireland for Andalucia was an effective device for a British audience who would be largely unfamiliar with such a region and its culture. Its conclusion left the audience in a stunned silence, as in a subtle anaphora, the blood of the two men pools on the church floor.