Love and Scandal with “Anna”

Aubrey Canfield

"Anna" is an intoxicating romance Photo Courtesy of William Taylor
"Anna" is an intoxicating romance Photo Courtesy of William Taylor

Anna in the Tropics, by renowned Cuban playwright Nilo Cruz, opened in the Little Theatre of Nordhoff Hall on Friday, October 2. Directed by Theatre department faculty member Christine Menzies, Anna is a story about love, loss and tradition. The play is about a family run Cigar factory in Florida during the great depression. In order to keep with tradition Ofelia (played by Raquel Barleycorn) hires a Lector (Played by Alfred Antillon) to read to the workers. The lector quickly wins the hearts of all of the workers, most significantly, he wins the heard of Ofelia’s oldest daughter Chonchita (played by Stephanie Avea) who is a married woman. The lector reads to the workers the story of Anna Karenina, a love story set in Russia, full of scandalous love affairs and betrayals. Quickly the story of Anna Karenina manifests itself in the lives of the cigar workers, and a tantalizing love affair ensues.

The CSUN cast took on a hefty responsibility in the production of this piece. Not only were the actors asked to portray complex and multi dimensional characters, but they were also expected to do it with accents! The accents were well thought out, appropriate and supremely executed.

Set Designer, Caitlin Lainoff, never fails to impress. Her sets are attractive, intricate and always interesting. The set for Anna was that of the cigar factory. Large rusty pillars and two story sliding windows created the crude and dingy factory. The stage had two levels adding the illusion of a large industrial revolution-era factory. The set had many opportunities for hiding and spying and allowed for simultaneous action to occur

Anna in the Tropics is a bout love. I would argue that the themes of modernization and tradition are merely a supplement and that the main story is, like it or not, a love story. And what is so wrong with a love story these days? Cliché though it may be, the love story is one of the oldest and most enduring genres that literature may possess. Instead of trying to break away from themes of love to explore more “complex” emotions, we should embrace the feelings that are most inherent in our lives. Thanks be to Nilo Cruz for embracing these simple emotions and to the CSUN theatre department for producing a most touching tale. Anna in the Tropics will run through October 11. Call (818) 677-2488 for tickets or simply visit the box office, and i will see you at the theatre!