I can’t remember the last time I went to an actual play. And what a shame that is, being that I live in NYC. So when I found out about a new stage adaptation of Isabel Allende’s masterpiece of magical realism, The House of Spirits, which started yesterday at the Repertorio Español theater, I was actually moved to buy a pair of tickets for this weekend. Put on by director José Zayas and playwright Caridad Svich, the production will be performed in Spanish (with a simultaneous English-language translation available) through June.
Most of us probably read Allende’s multi-generational saga about the Trueba family caught in a military dictatorship during which people were repressed, tortured, imprisoned, and killed, in high school. At the center of the story is Alba (played by Denise Quiñones, a former Miss Universe), a victim of the brutal regime that her own father, the imperious Senator Esteban Trueba, supports.
A lot of people criticized the 1993 film version, starring Jeremy Irons, Wynona Ryder, and Meryl Streep, among others, for veering too far from Allende’s original story, which was set in an unnamed South American country, but she has actually said to be quite content with this adaptation. Allende herself was forced into exile from Chile after President Salvador Allende, her cousin, was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet.