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Theater review: 'Blood Wedding' at the Odyssey Theatre

June 30, 2011 |  5:30 pm

IMG_1384An eerie fascination attends "Blood Wedding" at the Odyssey. Frederico Garcia Lorca's 1933 folk tragedy about a bride who runs off with her lover on her nuptial night receives an impressive, conservatory-poised staging by director Jon Lawrence Rivera.

Like counterparts "Yerba" and "The House of Bernarda Alba," "Blood Wedding" is an academic staple, with supernatural, sociological and emotional elements that transcend era and region. Rivera here sets the piece in Central California, circa 1952. The audience enters to find Death (Robert Almodovar) and the Moon (Ochuwa Oghie) on designer John H. Binkley's lunar-dominated circular platform, playing out the impending drama with dolls.

In Tanya Ronder's mega-poetic adaptation, Mother (the formidable Sharon Omi) worries over her surviving son (appealing Willie Fortes) marrying a young woman (Nikki McKenzie, playing from her nerve ends) whose previous liaison was with Leonardo (the potent Joshua Zar), connected with the clan that made Mother a near-childless widow. As Death and the Moon eavesdrop, Leonardo and the bride escape, bringing the title into full bas-relief.

Rivera maneuvers simple chairs and a wooden table with typical resourcefulness, aided evocatively by Derrick McDaniel's lighting, Mylette Nora's costumes and Bob Blackburn's sound. His non-traditional cast embraces the stylized attack, with Donna Pieroni's frenetic neighbor, Alberto Isaac's father of the bride and Ivan Davila's gender-switched duenna among the standouts.

It's a heady, near-hypnotic take, although Ronder's translation can be as formal as it is visceral, at times creating an airless quality, likely to be resolved as the run progresses. Certainly, students of rethought classics and Lorca devotees must catch this festival-ready realization.

— David C. Nichols

"Blood Wedding," Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays (with exceptions, see schedule).  Ends Aug. 14. $25-$30. (310) 477-2055 or Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Photo: Sharon Omi, left, and Willie Fortes. Credit: Enci.