There are many universal truths and ideas that connect persons of all backgrounds together. For instance, the language of music transcends the cultural barriers and obstacles that are encountered through the inability to communicate because of language or social constructs. The sound of laughter is another universal concept that is shared amongst all persons regardless of their differences; laughter is a joy that crosses all borders. Yet the most universal truth that reigns around the world is love. Whether we desire to have it, completely loathe it or fall in the middle, love exists at the core of the human spirit.
This is the theme of the beautifully directed and exceptionally executed production El desden con el desden or In Spite of Love written by Agustin Moreto and directed by Hugo Medrano for the 2012-13 season opener of the Gala Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Set in the Palace of the Count of Barcelona, Spain during the 17th century, In Spite of Love takes viewers on a journey of Princess Diana (Natalia Miranda-Guzman), the lovely and unattainable princess who refuses to entertain the idea of being in love and the impassioned Carlos, conde de Urgel (Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo) who decides to play the game of spiting love in order to gain it from the fair-weather princess.
A comedic and timeless piece, the characters embrace the concept of love, courtship and all its qualms in a Spanish Golden age classic originally portrayed in three acts condensed to two acts by director Medrano. While the script addresses serious issues of love, familial obligation and competition, the comedic flair and powerhouse performance of Polilla (Antonio Vargas) provides moral teachings with laughter that keep the audience enthralled in the plot of who will spite love and who will fall prey to it. The intellectual battles, psychological inquiries and plethora of agricultural metaphors all paint a picture of the troubles and pleasures of love.
The exceptional scenic design of Elizabeth Jenkins McFadden and lighting design of Joseph R. Walls along with the costume design of Alicia Tessari Neiman transports viewers into the world of 17th century and unifies the classic story and dynamic performances of the cast that lead us to internally question our conflict and conquest of love.
Reminiscent of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Moreto’s In Spite of Love is a Must-See production. For an evening of laughter, introspection and insight, the production falls at the top of the list for an overall entertaining and enlightening show.
Running Time: Two hours and fifteen minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
The production is performed in Spanish with English Subtitles.