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Dona Rosita the Spinster review at Orange Tree Richmond Surrey

The most neglected of Lorca’s major plays, this Chekhovian tragicomedy embraces tears and laughter, combining naturalistic dialogue with opportunities for exuberant song and dance. Had Auriol Smith’s lively production – only the second in London – been seen years ago, it might now rank among the Spanish poet’s most revivable dramas.

A Granada girl in love, Rosita is jilted by her fiance when he leaves to join his family in South America. He vows to return, even promises a proxy marriage but after 25 years’ absence he finally admits to having wed another.

Like the ‘mutable rose’ – Lorca’s inspiration – Paula Stockbridge as Rosita flourishes in scarlet finery in her heyday, declining into white-clad spinsterhood.

This poignant tale is set against middle-class family life, with songs around the piano, a spirited polka, even a scene-setting flamenco sequence with five Alhambra gypsy girls. John Dalby’s tuneful score sets the verse passages to music, while Ti Green’s stunning costume designs chart the passing years. And there are superb cameos by Tim Hardy as Rosita’s rose-fancying Uncle, Caroline John as a tippling neighbour and deft comedy from Ian Angus Wilkie as a provincial teacher with literary ambitions.

Best of all, the evening rejoices in a powerful double-act for Sheila Reid – a notably sweet-voiced soprano – as Rosita’s Aunt, in a love-hate relationship with her Housekeeper, portrayed with growling affection by Anna Carteret. Bravo!

Production Information

Orange Tree, Richmond, Surrey, March 24-April 24

Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Rebecca Morahan
Director and co-translator
Auriol Smith
Orange Tree Theatre
Anna Carteret, Sheila Reid, Paula Stockbridge, Ian Angus Wilkie
Running time
2hrs 15mins

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