New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

New York City Theater

"Beauty of the Father"
Manhattan Theatre Club

"There is always a wound in the world," says Federico Garcia Lorca, the famous writer who turns up in "Beauty of the Father." The observation, though acute and poetic, is but one of many that hang in the air during Nilo Cruz's play. Long on atmosphere but short on drama, the play seems most concerned with literary conceits.

Marina, a young woman living in America, seeks reconciliation with her father, Emiliano, an artist living in southern Spain. Estranged since her parents' divorce and devastated by her mother's recent death, she arrives to find a divided household of cross-current arrangements.

The lively Paquita would like to be Emiliano's wife but has married Karim, a young Moroccan, in an effort to help him obtain his residency papers. Emiliano, meanwhile, has already bedded Karim and would like that relationship to continue.

Marina and Karim are attracted to each other. But her yearning to bond with her father comes between them. The conflict between love and obligation appears headed toward a bloody confrontation in the style of Lorca’s plays. What we’re faced with, writes Cruz, whose "Anna in the Tropics" won a Pulitzer Prize, is "a father and a daughter and a young man playing marbles with their hearts and a woman who has run out of tears."

Director Michael Greif works hard to pull disparate strands together but, despite moments of genuine passion and anger, the play remains bits and pieces. Perhaps because they’re somewhat outside the main action, Priscilla Lopez has the best time as the sensuous Paquita, matched by Oscar Isaac as the whimsical Lorca. Ritchie Coster's conflicted Emiliano, Pedro Pascal's seductive Karim, and Elizabeth Rodriguez's romantic Marina stir up a full head of steam.

James F. Ingalls's lighting, Mark Wendland's sets, and Miranda Hoffman's costumes beautifully capture the Spanish heat. Darron L. West's sound design is filled with haunting guitar music.

-- David A. Rosenberg
Jan. 17, 2006

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