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Doña Rosita the Spinster

Presented by Jean Cocteau Repertory at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre, 330 Bowery, NYC, Jan. 15-May 4.

Director Ernest Johns has staged Jean Cocteau Repertory's revival of Federico Garcia Lorca's rarely performed drama "Doña Rosita the Spinster" with subtlety and cogency. Gwynne Edwards' new adaptation is at the same time lucid and colorful and the verse passages and lyrics are quite lovely. Although the play is highly poetic, the acting is realistically impassioned and commanding. On the basis of this production, it is strange that this play isn't performed more often.

Most impressive is the atmospheric and beautiful Granada courtyard setting by Roman Tatarowicz, which mirrors Lorca's lush language with its vines of red roses that disappear over the course of the play and its deep green garden beyond. Margaret McKowen's colorful costumes run a close second.

Beginning in 1895, "Doña Rosita" covers 25 years in the life of a young woman whose fiancé leaves for opportunities in the New World, vowing to return for her soon. While awaiting his return, she puts her life on hold until it is obvious to all that she has missed her chance to marry. Amanda Jones makes both Rosita's joy and grief palpable as she first deludes herself into believing that he will return and then resigns herself to the life of a spinster.

The roles of the sensible aunt and eccentric uncle give Cocteau regulars Elise Stone and Craig Smith a chance to sparkle, and the roles of the housekeeper and the middle-aged male visitors allow Eileen Glenn and Michael Surabian amusing comic opportunities that they fulfill. Amy Lee Williams and Carolyn Rattaray make the most of their two appearances as various girlfriends of Rosita. Danaher Dempsey is both handsome and stalwart as the deceitful fiancé. Marlene May gives an outsized performance as the Mother of the Spinsters, who lives on her pretensions.

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