By Luke Letourneau
Death is inescapable in Rufus Didwiszus’ Sydney Theatre Company debut Blood Wedding. It is an omnipresent theme that haunts every expression of every moment of the production. The inevitability of death is what lies at the heart of village life in Federico Garcia Lorca’s early twentieth century Spanish play; translated and directed by Iain Sinclair. While Sinclair directs his performers’ presence on stage, it is Didwiszus in collaboration with Luke Ede, who create the physical constructs that the actors are to interact with. It is they who further refine and reflect the actions and the lives of these characters in their dance with death.
With stage design by Didwiszus and costumes by Ede, Blood Wedding is introduced as an exploration of the ‘naturalness’ of the human condition. In the first half the design choices remain restrained, merely setting the location and period and introducing the audience to the players, pushing them to the fore.
It is not unlike Didwiszus to present a stark stage with minimal props, and at first he remains true to this aesthetic. The limited props and stage decoration are utilised to subtly hint at the over-arching themes of the work. Didwiszus has employed an array of devices in his costume, decoration and monochromatic colour palette as tools for attaining a vividly realised world; an early twentieth century Spanish cottage in a rural village community.
Didwiszus’ choices haunt the characters with the inevitability of their fate, death. While this is pursued only subtly in the first half, it dominates in the second. The audience is invited into a new world: a haunting experience of the forest. The naturalism that prevailed in the first half has ceased. The backdrop has changed, the costumes have changed and the floor has been changed. If the first half subtly alluded to death then the second is a full-blown embrace of it.
Eventually the forest is relinquished and the white wall of the first half returns. It becomes evident that the stylistic flourishes that inform the imagery of death and blood cannot be removed from the character’s immediate existence, instead just concealed. As where there is life, there will be death.
Rufus Didwiszus, Stage Design: Blood Wedding, Sydney Theatre Company, 1 April – 11 September 2011.