From Publishers Weekly When Juan Julian, a new lector, arrives at the tobacco shop, lives will inexorably be changed as he navigates through the prose of Anna Karenina for the edification of the cigar rollers. Set in Florida in 1929, the characters battle each other and themselves about the changing times as they confront technology, equality, money and love, reflected in the passages read by Julian. Though provocative and provoking in its suggestions and themes, this performance doesn't have much to beyond that. Jimmy Smits's performance peaks with his charged passages from Tolstoy's novel, but throughout the rest of the play his performance proves less than stellar. Some memorable performances include Winston Rocha as Santiago and Onahoua Rodriguez as Marela, but overall, the building tension in the short play feels forced and the performers seem to know this. L.A. Theatre Works, perhaps recognizing the brevity of the performance of this surprise Pulitzer Prize winner, provides an interview with Jimmy Smits to round out the production. The interview provides some insight to the decisions and the motivations of the cast as well as the director and writer. Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition. Read more Review ?Earnestly poetic. In evoking the lost Cuban-American world of a Florida cigar factory in 1929, Mr. Cruz has created a work as wistful and affectingly ambitious as its characters. 'Anna in the Tropics' reaches for the artistic heavens -- specifically, that corner of eternity occupied by the plays of Anton Chekhov, where yearning is an existential condition.? ? Ben Brantley, New York Times?The first Pulitzer winner by a Latino playwright, Anna also does something common to many great works of art, new or old: It makes an unfamiliar place feel familiar. Anna in the Tropics makes a strong case for the transformative powers of literature. Willingly or not, all the characters absorb Anna Karenina, and their lives are changed by it. Cruz is also writing, however, about the importance of making time to savor the small things in life ? ?taking walks and sitting on park benches, smoking a cigar slowly and calmly,? as the lector puts it.? ? J. Wynn Rousuck, Baltimore Sun??In Anna in the Tropics, Cruz claims his place as a storyteller of intricate craftsmanship and poetic power ? [Cruz] has turned out many wonderful plays ? but none more shimmeringly beautiful ? ? Miami Herald?Deeply engrossing.? ? Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle Read more See all Editorial Reviews
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