Angie Williams, Liz Torres, Omar Avilla, Clarena Francis & Jose Luiz Ruiz
in Cuando Regreses a Nuevo York  Photo-Allan Garcia


Cuando Regreses a Nuevo York / When You Return to New York

By Carmen Pombero
Directed by Guillermo A. Sallono

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved

To equate Spanish language plays with telenovellas such as can be found on Univision seems an easy, perhaps even lazy approach to critically reviewing a production, but watching Cuando Regreses a Nuevo York I found myself making the comparison several times.

I think it was the shift in tone between broad, patronizing comedy and melodrama, which is a characteristic on the series I remember watching during my futile attempts to learn Spanish. There’s nothing wrong with it necessarily, but it does feel like a cultural distinction that underlies my experience watching plays from El Delirio Producciones. For this gringo, the blend feels slightly uneasy at times, but not for the Spanish speaking audience that obviously welcomes such material.

The story concerns the testy dynamic within one  Spanish family, the ailing father, (Jose Luis Ruiz), his dutiful wife (Clarena Francis), his son (Angie Williams), who daydreams of New York City, where he lived for several years, his daughter (Liz Torres), and her husband (Omar Avila) who owns a hardware store. The father’s declining health, which includes dementia, puts great strain on his family, and the play moves from humor that dominates the early scenes, through hoary cliché that weighs down the middle, but, before the end, manages to explore some more original, organic interaction and resolution for all of the characters.

The conflict centers largely on the pull between dreams and expectations, hope and pragmatism. It also highlights the inevitable disparity between the values of generations. It almost gets lost in genre tropes but eventually brings enough individuality and dignity to these characters to connect the audience in a more meaningful way.

El Delirio Producciones and Teatro Tercera Llamda both struggle with the limitations of the casting pool for Spanish-language theatre in Louisville, and are often forced to choose scripts for only 2-3 characters for this reason. Cuando represents a positive move forward in the strength of its five-member ensemble, even if Delirio Director Angie Williams dons a wig, fake beard, and baggy men’s clothes to portray a male character.  It is something of a stunt, intended to show off the actress’ virtuosity, and it succeeds well enough on that score, but Williams also gives the character enough foundation to live in the action of the play on its own terms.

Jose Luis Ruiz is strong as the father; a complex portrait of a degenerating paterfamilias, and Clarena Francis stoically occupies his long-suffering spouse. Liz Torres and Omar Avila also do fine work navigating the shifting relationship dynamics with authority.

The play is presented in Spanish with English supertitles. The titles more or less kept pace with the onstage dialogue, although there was a point where they fell way behind and were brought up to speed so swiftly as to rob those of us who relied on them of a great many lines. It is unfortunate, but at the point in the production I also felt tuned in enough to the performance that I never felt lost.

Cuando Regreses a Nuevo York ends on a rueful, nostalgic note that identifies the romanticism that preceded the dissolution and breakdown of la familia. The moment is the last ingredient in lifting what could have been mundane into something more.

Cuando Regreses a Nuevo York / When You Return to New York

July 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18 @ 7:30 pm

Tickes por solo $15 precio regular y $12 para estudiantes con identificacion valida. Tendremos subtitulos en Ingles. Para sus reservaciones llame o envie txt al (502) 851-0889 o envie un email a:

Tickets for only $15 regular price and $12 per students with valid ID. For reservations call or txt (502) 851-0889 or email English subtitles would be provided.

El Delirio Producciones
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205



Keith[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for[/box_light]