“The Gardens of Anuncia” at The Old Globe Theatre

 

The cast of The Gardens of Anuncia, 2021. Photo by Jim Cox.

The premise is appealing: an older women finds that her garden is a catalyst for exploring her memories.

Through her chronological succession of vignettes, she looks back on her grandmother, mother, sister and younger self, all while exploring and revising her memories.

Set during the dictatorship of Juan Perón’s Argentina, the 1940-50 political backdrop unfortunately plays only a small role in the musical. Several fleeting references are made to his wife, Evita (who has already been well assayed in the stage musical format).

Anuncia is played by Carmen Roman and Kalyn West. The former is reflecting on her life, as played by the latter. Both actresses perform well.

(from left) Andréa Burns as Tía (Lucia), Mary Testa as Granmama (Magdalena), Kalyn West as Younger Anuncia, and Eden Espinosa as Mamí (Carmen) in The Gardens of Anuncia, 2021. Photo by Jim Cox.

Mark Wendland’s sparse yet effective stage design reminded me warmly of David Byrne’s recent Broadway production, although in the latter the vertical motif surrounded rather than permeated the stage.

When a character is introduced with a demeanor and tonality divorced from the rest of the production, the intrusion needs to be spot on. Think of how engaging King George’s appearance is in “Hamilton.” Here, the ambitious introduction of The Deer grinds things to a halt. Heroically played by Tally Sessions, it is unclear why Anuncia wants to confer with the interloper in her garden.

Several other male characters drift in and out of the narrative, mostly as foils for the strong women in the family. Credit also to Andréa Burns and Eden Espinosa in their roles.

Intriguingly, another play across town deals with a mother in her garden, dealing with her memories (“The Garden” has opened at La Jolla Playhouse).

“The Gardens of Anuncia” is an ambitious musical based on the life of its famed director and co-choreographer Graciela Daniele.

Tickets available here, through October 17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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