Beauty of the Father at UrbanTheater Company | Theater review
Lorca looks over a Spanish love triangle in Nilo Cruz’s 2007 family drama.
Everyone could use the advice of a resident ghost, and Emiliano (Madrid St. Angelo), a painter in southern Spain, has an eloquent one: Federico García Lorca. The ghost, played here by Ivan Vega, is also haunted; Lorca was killed by firing squad in 1936, both for his politics and for being openly gay. In this 2007 family drama turned love triangle by Nilo Cruz, the poet is a stand-in for the essence of Spanish artistry and the dangers of sexual self-expression. In Emiliano’s case, being a gay artist has severed him from his daughter Marina (Jasmin Cardenas), whose visit unsettles the household chemistry. By dramatic law, the young lover of an older person must fall for the first youth who enters the room, and alas for Emiliano, he’s in danger of losing Moroccan immigrant Karim, played with smoldering gusto by Nicolas Gamboa.
Lighting designer Mac Vaughey turns the Wicker Park Art Center, a desanctified church, into warm and sunlit Andalusia. Not everything feels authentic; my Basque companion confirmed that Spaniards rarely interrupt their speech with passionate flamenco air-snaps and cries of “olé!” Gamboa has real chemistry with Cardenas, though, and St. Angelo, who projects with a room-filling brio, is a treat to watch. Vega’s Lorca, who holds a literal moon in his hands, is dapper and fragile, a wistful specter who lifts a prosaic story into enchantment.