DANCE IN THE GARDEN OF LOVE

By Bonnie Goldberg

With castanets and guitars, the bolero was a dance popular in Spain, Cuba and Mexico, a danceable love song, a memory of sweet and bitter love.  In the world premiere of Jose Rivera’s “Boleros for the Disenchanted,” it is at first reminiscent of the rosy bloom of new love, a special affection to be treasured.  Flora, a virginal beauty has pledged her heart to her new fiancé Manuelo in her homeland of Puerto ‘Rico, but there is a snake lurking in her beautiful Garden of Eden the]at threatens her happiness.

New Haven’s Yale Repertory Theatre will plant seeds of faithfulness until Saturday, May 17 with this earthy story of love and marriage and what a lifetime together, for better or for worse, really means.

Sona Tatoyan is Flora, a good girl who has been raised in a strict Catholic home, with a caring mother (Adriana Sevan) and a strict, often drunken father (Gary Perez).  When Flora realizes that Manuelo (Felix Solis) has been unfaithful to her, even before they take their vows, she renounces him, her mother wants to put a witch’s curse on him and her father has ideas that involve a large machete.

Flora seeks the sanctuary of her cousin Petra’s house (Lucia Brawley), to heal her heart and there meets the dashing soldier Eusebio (Joe Minoso) who soon woos and wins her.

Act II fast forwards almost four decades and follows the young couple to America, looking for a better life.  Now Flora, played by Adriana Sevan, and Eusebio, played by Gary Perez, have settled into a less than ideal existence.  Illness and bad choices have left Eusebio bedridden and tied Flora to him as a caregiver.  In the face of adversity, Flora is ever loyal and cheerful, until a possible deathbed confession shakes even her constant world.

Linda Buchanan has created a flower drenched set that is a feast for the eyes, whether the action is in Miraflores, Puerto Rica or Daleville, Alabama.  Jose Rivera has crafted a love story that will touch your heart as you watch Flora go from ecstasy to despair to ecstasy again, claiming “a mystery like love cannot be expressed, just felt.”  When she finds a man worthy of her good values, you will cheer for her.  Henry Godinez directs this fresh look at one of the oldest emotions known to man.

For tickets ($35-58), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street at York, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. ; Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.

Learn about sin and sacrifice, infidelity and faithfulness, as a young girl is tested on the altar of love time and again.

(This appeared in the Middletown Press on May 8, 2008.)

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