David Hennessy talks to Aoife Duffin, the Kerry actress starring as The Bride in Marina Carr’s adaptation of Spanish tragedy Blood Wedding.
Aoife Duffin leads a strong Irish cast wowing audiences at the Young Vic in Marina Carr’s adaptation of Blood Wedding, one of Federico Garcia Lorca’s best-known plays.
One of Ireland’s leading playwrights Marina Carr adapted the Spanish tragedy for an English speaking audience by moving the action to rural Ireland.
Directed by Yael Farber, the story of star-crossed lovers in the face of fatal factionalism weaves a tale of a wedding day so doomed, it rivals Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding.
Aoife tells the Irish World it was a production she could not say no to: “I worked with Yael Farber last year on Hamlet and I had an amazing experience doing that. And then the fact it was Marina Carr, it was a combo I couldn’t say no to, and the Young Vic. The Young Vic has got such an amazing reputation now, I thought, ‘I have to do it’.”
Television audiences would know Aoife from Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy. She has graced The Young Vic before in A Girl is a Half Formed Thing that was successful enough to transfer to Edinburgh Fringe.
Her character’s prospective mother-in-law in Blood Wedding is outraged to learn that she was once to marry a member of a rival clan. So inhuman is the rival clan, says her fiancee’s mother, that their ‘hooves’ should be nowhere near anything of theirs.
When her former love declares his feelings, it makes her think twice about the wedding: “The bride wants to experience life to its fullest and the place she’s in can’t offer that to her. She’s inherited that as well in a way because her great grandmother and her mother had these untameable spirits. A huge theme running through the whole piece is the unfulfilled desires and longings that we inherit from our ancestors, we inherit those in our DNA and there’s no escaping it.”
The characters have also undoubtedly inherited their tribal grudge. Both sides of the argument that started their bloody war are hinted at but neither is presented as right or wrong. The characters are simply born into the fight with who their parents are dictating whose side they are on. The play moves with foreboding musical transitions that create an impending sense of doom that illustrates the collision course its characters are on.
It is the females, most strikingly Olwen Fouere’s Mother of the Groom, who ensure the younger women are seen as nothing more than breeders to continue the family line and feud. The men are unaware they are pawns in the game: “The women characters are fantastic in it. It’s the women holding up the patriarchal system in the play. Marina writes misogyny through all of her characters, which is so much more interesting. This is what was said in the rehearsal room as well. It’s true. The women uphold the patriarchal system as much as men do. And that makes for really interesting characters.
“There’s humour running through it which I guess is very Irish humour. The people in the play, they’re very smart. They’re of the earth and they’re rural but they’re really smart people and they’re not sentimental. Marina Carr writes such a specific, very true world of rural Ireland and that darkness that’s there is something that Marina Carr captures that I think not many other writers can capture. She just made such an amazing adaptation. We’ve just been so blessed with it.”
Aoife has been lauded for her haunting performance that combines fragility with defiance and even been tipped for awards. She has taken no notice of this herself though: “To be perfectly honest with you, I haven’t read any reviews or anything and believe it or not I’m not on one bit of social media so I might as well be living in a cave. My character lives in a cave so I’m also nearly living in a cave. I haven’t gone near the reviews it’s not helpful. Good reviews can sort of mess with your head as much as bad reviews so it’s best to leave well enough alone.”
Blood Wedding is at The Young Vic until 2 November.