Book Review of Anna in the Tropics

Anna in the Tropics
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** spoiler alert ** Nilo Cruz has an exceptional way of painting a picture with his words. Though Ive never worked as a cigar roller in 1929 Florida, Nilos writing took me to that time and place. I felt the gentle evening Floridian breezes and could smell the sweet smoke of the cigars that had been rolled by hand by guayabera-wearing men. The characters are relatable and very realistic.

There are various story lines played out in this short play. The central focus is that of some of the workers love affairs. Ofelia, the factory owners (Santiago) wife, keeps the tradition of having a lector read to the workers and hires Juan Julian for this purpose. Juan Julian chooses to read Anna Kareninas love story which later parallels his affair with Conchita, Ofelias married daughter. The story also parallels Anna Karenina in that Chester, Santiagos step-brother is in love with Marela, Santiagos unmarried daughter Like Kitty in Anna Karenina, Marela is not interested in Chester (Levin). She secretly pines for Juan Julian (Vronsky).

I had expected a conflict between the married couple and Juan Julian to ensue, however, the story ends in a way that I had not imagined. And it did not bring a sense of closure b/w Conchita and her husband; nor did it bring any closure to the strained relationship between Santiago, his wife, and his brother-in-law. I would have liked to see all of these dynamics drawn out a bit more. I hope to catch more than one live production in hopes to see the interpretations of this script answer some of my questions.