For a Spanish poet who’s been dead for nearly 70 years, Federico García Lorca is quite the man-about-town these days. His seminal collection The Poet in New York has been turned into a one-man show that opens next month, and Michael John LaChiusa’s musical adaptation of The House of Bernarda Alba premieres in February. Yet Lorca’s 1935 play Doña Rosita the Spinster hasn’t been seen on a New York stage in a quarter-century—since artistic director René Buch’s previous revival for Repertorio Español. His evocative new staging evinces an expert Lorcan hand at work: Buch has directed 12 productions of Lorca’s tragic trilogy at Repertorio, two of which join Rosita in repertory this season.
Like the verse-filled play, Rosita has languished in obscurity for years. When her fiancé ships off to rural Argentina, she shuts herself in her Granada home, surrounded by roses that wilt the same day they bloom, and waits for his return, oblivious as time, history, and life pass her by. Though her fate mirrors that of many Spanish women at the turn of the 20th century, it also reads as a metaphor for conservative 1930s Spain at the brink of civil war, but Buch also manages to punch up the script’s class conflicts by playing them for laughs. In particular, Alejandra Orozco, as the loud and meddling housemaid, steals every scene she’s in. The real surprise of the evening, though, is Denise Quiñones, whose biggest credit until now consists of having won the Miss Universe pageant in 2001, and whose heartfelt portrayal of the titular old maid heralds an actor to watch.