Play Review: Anna in the Tropics

Anna in the Tropics by Cuban-American author Nilo Cruz is currently performed by the bay area theatre company TheatreWorks . The play is set in small town in Tampa Bay Florida in a cigar factory in 1929. The factory is a family owned factory where cigars are manufactured by hand, and the workers are entertained with stories told by a lector. A man paid by the workers to read whatever the workers want, almost like a live radio station.

The lector in this play serves as metaphorical narator as he reads Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Once the reading begins of Tolstoy’s tragedy, the structure of the play is almost foretold. There is going to be adultery, betrayal, loss and partial redemption of the characters. Fortunately for us, Nilo Cruz treats Tolstoy’s book as a source of themes not a source of plot structure. He does not slavishly follow the book but instead is inspired by it.

The particular production put on by TheatreWorks is very good. As a local theatre organization with over 36 years of contribution to the area and an 8 million dollar budget the plays produced are entertaining, well crafted, well acted and well produced. This is not broadway or even Market street, but for ~30$ very much worth the money.

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