Written in Spain 1933, a few years before civil war and the advent of fascism, Lorca’s ‘Blood Wedding’ is a brutal tale of star-crossed lovers and fatal family divisions. Marina Carr’s new translation at the Young Vic re-imagines the Spanish classic in a rugged corner of pre-Colonial Ireland in a production that is both bold and beautiful. But director Yael Farber does not entirely let go of it's Spanish origins and those unfamiliar with Lorca’s Blood Wedding might be forgiven for feeling a little confused by the appearance of Flamenco guitar in rural Ireland, not to mention the sudden lurch from family drama into poetic symbolism.

Carr's translation captures the spirit of Lorca’s poetry; the rich musicality of the Irish dripping with dark humour and religious fatalism. Describing parallels between the countries, Farber talks not only of the catholicism and colonisation but of ‘the mud and guts of the language.’ By contrast, the set and lighting design is sharp, clean and symbolic with long shadows and a huge rising mountainside from Susan Hilferty and Natasha Chivers.

Olwen Fouere and Steffan Rhodri give powerful performances as the mother of the groom and the father of the bride, whose ill-fated families have already been torn apart by death and betrayal. Despite the sense of impending doom, the mother in law who will never be pleased and the sullen bride (Aoife Duffin) bring plenty of light humour to the darkness, ‘Grand-children!’ says the mother, ‘Another illusion on this black earth!’
Thalissa Teixeira’s stunning vocals as ‘the moon’ certainly deepen the layers of sound across the evening, but in general the symbolic scenes were not entirely successful in a production which crackles with wit in the more naturalistic domestic scenes.

Sometimes the emphasis on beautiful visual imagery detracts from the casts natural ability to create drama. Gavin Drea, the long haired ‘gypsy’ who tempts the bride away on his galloping white horse charges round the round stage on an aerial wire until he literally takes flight – a great idea but in practice the rigmarole of clipping on safety belts in such an intimate space ultimately works against the transcendent moment. The simpler images tend to be more resonant in the end. It's clear that Farber is drawing on contemporary concerns when the lights coming up on the wasted bodies of two young men covered in blood - knifed to death in an act of pointless, family revenge.

Photo credit: Marc Brenner