Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Blood Wedding

The Vortex Theatre
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Stephanie's review of The Crucible

Photo Courtesy of The Vortex Theatre
Blood Wedding comes with a few interesting peculiarities. Mostly, the play shifts in tone and style halfway through. Federico García Lorca's 1933 play begins as a gloomy soap opera, then transcends its rural Spain setting and slips into high art. The play is clunky, then lyrical. Mundane, then magical. And it comes with one of the greatest play titles ever.

The drama opens as the Groom (Sam Shoemaker-Trejo) is anticipating his wedding day. He speaks with his Mother (Michelle Otero). who is gloomy beyond hope. She lost her husband years earlier through a conflict with the Felix family. To make things extra gloomy, the Groom's bride-to-be has a past with Leonardo Felix (Malcom June), a relative of the man who killed the Groom's father.

Off we go to Leonardo's Wife (Erica Tenorio) and her Mother-in-Law (Lina Ramos). Soon we see trouble in the marriage. Leonardo is distracted and unpleasant to his Wife—we soon find he is still in love with the Bride (Angelina Ortiz).

As we move on to the Bride's family, we meet up with a variety of townsfolk. We come to see that the Bride still pines for Leonardo. Everyone seems a mess except for the Groom who is blessedly happy because he just can't see that his coming wedding is a disaster. He maintains his positive nature by completely ignoring the misery surrounding him. Thus, we don't feel much sympathy for him.

The wedding comes and goes in a flash. The Bride retreats to a room because of a "headache." Once in the room and out of view, she sneaks off with Leonardo. The Groom pursues the fleeing couple into the woods. And that's where the play comes alive.

The tedious townsfolk fade into the background as the supernatural beings to take the stage. The Moon (Ed Chavez) and Death, disguised as a beggar woman (Jaime Pardo), take over the world of Blood Wedding and transform the story into a dark supernatural ruckus.

In the Vortex production directed by Valli Marie Rivera, a theatre pro of considerable depth, we get just what the recipe for this lyrical soup calls for: pedestrian humans in their clumsy, anxious life-and-love machinations, followed by terrible beauty in the forest. There are strained and awkward passages through the first half. Much of this is the simple clunkiness of the drama. The second half is pure music.

This bird stumbles along the runway before it takes off, but its flight is beautiful, well worth the wait. Chavez is spectacular as the Moon. The lighting (Josh Bien), the set (Mary Rossman), the sound (Casey Mraz), the costumes (Jaime Pardo), and the make-up suddenly become amazing. The heightened drama soars even higher when Death emerges. Pardo as Death takes the lyrical script into high creepiness, and the poetry of the Moon and Death elevates the whole theatre.

Blood Wedding, by Federico García Lorca and directed by Valli Marie Rivera, at The Vortex Theatre, 2900 Carlisle NE, Albuquerque NM through November 19, 2017. The show starts at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2:00 pm on Sundays. General admission tickets are $22, $19 for ATG members, and $15 for students and those in an entertainment union. You can buy tickets online at or by phone at 247-8600.