I compliment Khaos Company Theatre and director Anthony Nathan for having the originality and courage to choose such a rarely produced piece, but unfortunately, its execution was woefully inadequate.
The set relied on a series of sheets which barely masked the backstage space, and when backlit, provided a bit of a tease as the cast’s silhouettes undressed. There was no lighting except for a single work light and a digital projector, used to clumsily project various images over the cast throughout the performance. These projections were never very effective, ranging from flowers to a bunch of pictures of sad models and skulls which would not be out of place on a thirteen-year-old emo girl’s English Lit. binder.
The scene transitions were awkward to non-existent; the first act ended with the cast standing in tableau looking like deer staring down an oncoming semi then abruptly scattering off stage. What’s more, Frederico Garcia Lorca’s poetry and peasant songs became out of place song breaks, particularly during the wedding party, at which point it started to feel like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers had forced itself upon the play.
The costumes might have been attempts at period clothing, but it was difficult to discern. They also suffered from repeated wing difficulty. First, in an inspired choice, Nathan combined the group of woodcutters commenting on the events of the play into a single mad prophet, but his fairy wings repeatedly poked at the poor woman seated next to his exit. The incarnation of the moon wore a cape she repeatedly held up like Batman wings, which eventually left the gentleman beside me reaching out to politely pull one side so as not to block his view entirely. The incarnation of death completely abandoned the playwright’s original notion of appearing as a morbid beggar, draped instead in black lace from head to toe.
The cast itself could never seem to deliver any plausible performances, but I think Todd Crickmore as the Father of the Bride could have probably offered up a pretty good interpretation had he not been stuck with his Frito Bandito accent and the role of conducting the mid-play hoedown.
Finally, and most importantly, the first murder, as the result of a clunkily choreographed knife fight, was actually shown instead of only heard off stage as originally scripted. The playing space was practically in the laps of the audience, and though the actors doing the stage combat were pretty slow about it, I am still somewhat concerned about the safety of this production.