Family history, identity, culture, and love are all wrapped up in AZUL the play at Diversionary Theatre playing through December 19th. When some members of the family leave Cuba for New York, and some members stay, the show follows two love stories on each island, and how to stay true to your heritage while thriving where you have developed roots.
Yadra (Zuleyma Guevara) was a little girl when her family moved from Cuba to New York, and now as she gets older only remembers fleeting memories of her time there. She has a thriving psychiatry practice but is worried because she has found she is losing her memory more and more often. She doesn’t want to worry her daughter Zelia (Sofia Sassone), an American-born blonde who struggles to feel connected to her heritage when so many people discount her since she doesn’t speak Spanish or fit the stereotypical look of a Latina. Zelia’s wife Loré (Olivia Espinosa) helps Zelia with both her Yadra’s memory issues and translates when Yadra starts speaking solely Spanish and offers Zelia support when she wants to go on a quest to connect to her roots.
Inspired by the story of her Aunt Nena, Zelia wants to return to Cuba and find out what happened to her. Nena chose to stay with her secret lover Antonia, even though staying put her at great personal peril in Castro’s Cuba. Zelia hopes that the trip will not only help get details on her great-aunt’s life, but also help Zelia connect with her heritage that up until now had only been passed down to her via her mother.
Directed by Maria Patrice Amon the play covers a lot of topics, identity, sexuality, family, heritage, and love in a short amount of time but never feels rushed.
Guevara is excellent at Yadra, both as a competent professional and then as she descends into the fog of memories. Sassone as Zelia is believably wound tight about losing her mother, and along with that her link to her family history leaving her feeling unanchored and a bit of an imposter to others as she claims her heritage. Espinosa is excellent as Loré, who acts as both the balance to Zelia’s New Yorker attitude and also to help her navigate finding her Cuban roots with reason and warmth.
The play has a beautiful Latin score performed by singer-guitarist Diana Cervera throughout the show.
Awash in warm, pastel-washed colors of by Samantha Rojales, with lighting by Winston G. Limauge, costumes by Faith A. James, and sound by Andrew Gutierrez, the play delivers on the feeling of a sun-drenched tropical island.
AZUL, like its characters, doesn’t answer everything in a neatly wrapped bow, but does leave some room for audience interpretation. There is a lot of dialogue in Spanish, but the performances are strong so if you don’t speak Spanish (like Zelia) you will still get the story and enough information to decide how the characters wrap up their storylines.
How to get Tickets
AZUL is playing at Diversionary Theatre through December 19th. For ticket and showtimes information go to www.diversionary.org
COVID protocols: Proof of full vaccination is required and face masks must be worn indoors with no exceptions.
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