New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

Ethnic Theater - Spanish

"Dona Rosita la Soltera (Dona Rosita the Spinster)"
Repertorio Espanol, Manhattan

Spanish poet/ playwright/human rights activist Federico Garcia Lorca was assassinated at the height of his career in 1936, by Franco fascists, it is believed. But despite his untimely death, Lorca had already compiled a body of impassioned works, securing his place as one of the most eminent of Spanish writers. “The House of Bernarda Alba,” “Yerma,” and “Blood Wedding”—all poetic and questioning, but highly accessible dramas—established his reputation.

But now Repertorio Espanol goes back in time, choosing a lesser-known, earlier Lorca piece--“Dona Rosita la Soltera.” “Dona Rosita” had yet to exhibit the dramatic power of the later works, though indeed there are touching and lyrical moments. Nevertheless this early Lorca piece takes on a serious issue—the status of Spanish women. In 1885 the young Rosita is engaged to a man who crosses the Atlantic to seek his fortune. Her life from then on consists of preparing her trousseau and waiting vainly for his return--while he marries another. The story, tragic from her view, covers years of fruitless waiting.

But how does one turn “waiting” into drama? Rosita’s long, drawn-out vigil indeed becomes tiresome on stage. Moreover, if one lacks Spanish fluency and must resort to headphones, one finds the story additionally muted and boring. Only the opening scene sparkles, when the young girls charmingly attired in white ruffles and elaborate hats, cavort about the stage.

Yet Denise Quinones manages to rescue this production. This statuesque Puerto Rican beauty (Miss Universe 2001) is also a fine actress who gives depth and poignancy to her Dona Rosita, as she moves from girlish exuberance to sad resignation. It is a joy to watch her portrayal. Other cast members, in varying degrees, serve the story. But it is her performance and Lorca’s soaring moments of poetry which save the day.

-- Irene Backalenick
Nov. 4, 2005

Sign up for our mailing list