One superb thing GALA Hispanic Theatre’s production of “Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Spinster)” has going for it is the beautifully poetic language. It’s the language of love, of yearning, of languishing, and sumptuously hides that the women of the privileged class depicted are basically sheltered children. They are near defenseless when reality slides in.
This production is burnished and definitely worth a trip to upper 14th Street to savor this polished, poetic work.
Rosita is at the heart of this play, written in 1935 by by Frederico García Lorca and adapted for Gala Hispanic Theatre by Nando López. Rosita is an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle. El tío (Ariel Texidó) is a cultivar of roses and gardens. His crowning glory is the rosa mutabile — a flower that is red in the morning, white by night, and dead within a day. As shorthand for Rosita’s unexpected life, it’s apt.
When we first meet Rosita, it’s her birthday and she is in love with her second cousin (also played by Ariel Texidó). She is young and confident and unthinking. Her cousin is returning to Argentina to take over the family farm but he declares their love and betrothal publicly. Everybody is thrilled and Rosita’s future is settled. As a plus, it’s settled with a man she loves.
But there’s deceit ahead, both on her lover’s part and on Doña Rosita’s. Her tragedy is the status in which she finds herself, and as she grows older (the play has a 15-year arc), the dismissal by society of her worth. If she is not a wife, then what is her purpose? She was raised, as befitted her class and culture, to be a wife, run a home, care for children, and direct servants. She withers.
Surrounding her are her aunt (Luz Nicolás), the housekeeper/maidservant (Laura Alemán), and her uncle. Catherine Núñez plays several parts (most of the cast with the exception of del Pozo and Nicolás do), including various friends. The final cast member is Delbis Cardona who plays Don Martin and a couple of others. He is very lithe and has an aptitude for physical acting. It would be fun to see him in a more comedic role.
As the young Doña Rosita, del Pozo is graceful, ethereal, and so hopeful it’s heartbreaking. As she becomes the ghost in the house, not only does she shed her delicate white dress for a dark green one, but her movements grow more reticent. It’s a lovely interpretation of an extended withering.
The cast is uniformly excellent in their roles, but as the housekeeper/maid, Alemán is riveting. She’s not shy about voicing her opinions, and she’s genuinely funny. We learn a bit of her backstory — she was once a wife and mother — and I would have loved to have learned more. In a sense she’s the linchpin of the little family, particularly when the uncle dies and leaves the aunt and Doña Rosita in straitened circumstances.
The scene changes on the highly-stylized set meant to represent a walled garden (this is a play that makes unabashed use of symbolism everywhere you look) are handled mostly by the cast, led by the agile Cardona — he swoops under tables. In fact, the scene changes were so entertaining that it was a few minutes before the audience realized that intermission had started.
This is a lovely elegy for a world that no longer exists, and also, in a sense, a warning — to live life as it is, not wait for it to drape perfectly into your hands. The cast, under the vibrant direction of José Luis Arellano, finds that sweet spot in discovering the relevance of the flowery words and old-world charm. Jesús Díaz Cortés is responsible for the atmospheric lighting and sound design. Silvia de Marta translated the words into the scenic and costume design, and musical design is by David Peralto and Alberto Granados. This production is burnished and definitely worth a trip to upper 14th Street to savor this polished, poetic work.
Running Time: Approximately one hour 50 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.
“Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Spinster)” runs through October 3, 2021 at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20010. For more information, please click here. For information on their COVID-19 Safety policy, please click here.