Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: (Montreal) Anna sous les tropiques

Tropical Anna
A play returns to Montreal - en français
by Rachel Zuroff

Montreal’s Théåtre du Rideau Vert is currently putting on the play Anna sous les tropiques.  Originally written in English by Cuban-American Nilo Cruz, Anna tells the story of a 1920s American cigar factory run by a family of Cuban immigrants and the “lector” who changes the course of their lives.  Anna is about the struggles faced by this family as they try to keep alive their island tradition of producing hand-rolled cigars while fighting against the encroachment of modernity in the form of machines meant to replace factory workers.  The play further portrays the workers’ struggles to experience and deal with love.  As the newly arrived “lector” reads Anna Karenina to the factory workers, each identifies in their own way to the story and finds it affecting their lives for better or worse.

This is the second time I’ve seen Anna in the Tropics.  The first was years ago at the Centaur Theatre.  I prefer Théåtre du Rideau Vert’s version.  Though Saturday’s performance started off shakily - its first scene was frankly unpleasant - it regained its rhythm quickly enough. The cast gave a moving and engaging performance. The scenes with only two characters were particularly captivating. I found myself more and more absorbed in the intense interactions between the characters on stage as they laid bare their secret needs and vulnerabilities. Geneviève Rochette’s performance in the role of Conchita was particularly touching.

All in all, Théåtre du Rideau Vert puts on a touching rendition of Anna in the Tropics, performed with both comedy and tragedy. I heartily recommend it. 

Anna sous les tropiques runs 1 hour 50 minutes with a 20 minute intermission.  Its run ends October 15.

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