The current offering from the justly renowned GALA Hispanic Theatre, Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate) is a veritable feast for the senses and a savory mixture of theatrical techniques that constitute a cornucopia of dramatic and comedic delight. This colorful and atmospheric play that spans several decades is intimately and precisely performed under the perceptive and vigorous direction of Olga Sanchez.
Ms. Sanchez keeps the play (adapted for the stage by Garbi Losada) moving along with sensitivity as she guides a large ensemble cast with fluidity and cohesiveness. Rarely have I seen an ensemble cast that played off each other so beautifully and with such reciprocity.
Themes of authority versus individualism and tradition versus free choice are prevalent throughout the play. Again, we have the very satisfying theatrical staple of “Three Sisters,” starting with Chekhov’s famous play of the same name and running through the three sisters who appear in Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. Here we have the younger sister, Tita, and the elder sisters, Gertrudis and Rosaura.
The most intriguing theme of the play is the human connection to food with all its infinite variety including brittleness, laughter, and sensuality. Several stimulating recipes–such as wedding cake, soup, and chorizo–are described and made in full view on stage.
As Tita, the youngest daughter who fights tradition, Ines Dominguez del Corral projects an air of quiet strength. Ms. Dominguez del Corral’s facial expressions are priceless in their myriad moods. Guadalupe Campos as Rosaura is superb in her role as the character who is able to wed the man that Tita truly loves. Yaremis Felix as Gertrudis is wonderful especially in her scenes of giving in to her sensual feelings.
Teresa Yenque as the cook, Nacha, is marvelous in her portrayal. Alternately earthy and sagacious, Ms. Yenque commands the stage. When Ms. Yenque dies and leaves the earthly sphere to go on to the spirit world, Lighting Designer Christopher Annas-Lee does a superior job with lighting the windows with the shadows of the departed.
As Mama Elena, Luz Nicolas was the epitome of harsh discipline. Ms. Nicolas’ timing and physical movements aptly captured the stern authority of the punishing matriarch. Particularly compelling was Ms. Nicolas’ scene where she remembered her love for her dead husband.
As Chencha, the maid, Karen Morales was a comic delight. Ms. Morales particularly elicited much hearty laughter in the second act as she reacted to the other characters and to external events with appropriately “over the top” borderline hysteria and comedic mannerisms.
Peter Pereyra’s character of Pedro was appropriately sincere, warm, and callow. Mr. Pereyra’s seeming contradiction over marrying a woman he does not truly love is very complex and well-played.
Carlos Castillo was very well-cast as the character of Don Pascual. Delbis Cardona’s portrayal of Dr. John Brown was charismatic. Ms. Karen Romero had a distinctive voice as the narrator.
Music and Sound Design by David Crandall was subtly intertwined throughout. Scenic Design by Mariana Fernandez was superlative in evoking a Mexican hacienda. Costume Design by Moyenda Kulemeka was very colorful and evocative of the timespan covered.
Do not miss this superior and invigorating production that will stimulate your senses!
Running Time: Two hours, with one 10-minute intermission.
Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate) plays through October 7, 2018, at the Gala Hispanic Theatre located at 3333 14th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20010. Como Agua Para Chocolate is performed in Spanish with English subtitles. For tickets call (202) 234-7174, or go online.