Barney Norris, Wiltshire’s unofficial contemporary chronicler, swaps dry earth and baking heat for chalky hills and the A350 in his new adaptation of Lorca’s Blood Wedding.
Set round the back of Edington Village Hall, Norris’ play follows Georgie (Lily Nichol) as she prepares to enter into a hasty marriage, in search of security and purpose in her life. But her ex-lover, Lee, a charismatic but troubled man from a Traveller community, shows up and unravels her semblance of happiness.
Norris doesn’t try to bend the feudal drama of Lorca’s original to his sleepy Wiltshire setting (neither male rival really has tendencies towards violence). Instead, his characters are plaintive and introspective, the play’s dramatic engine fuelled more by disappointment than by jealous passions.
He retains, however, some of Lorca’s fatalism and impressionism, with James Perkins’ realist set design encased by strange curved panels, and overlooked by a too-close moon. Johanna Town’s lighting swirls over the stage like water in the play’s fourth act, in which the village hall’s kindly, talkative proprietor becomes a mythic truth-teller, delving into Wiltshire’s history.
The characters, each a fleshed-out archetype (a naive, laddish boy; a worried, doting mother) are fondly observed. From the cast, Emmet Byrne stands out as Lee – brooding, holding tension in his neck, an open book yet always at arms’ distance, he commands each scene. His and Georgie’s sadness is that of not being seen, loved or valued – but Norris does all three.