By Thom Walker
Julia Álvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies is an incredibly important work, detailing the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic. When I heard that Teatro Vista would be presenting a staged (and fictionalized) version of the incredible story, I knew I'd be in for a treat. The company has impressed me time and time again with their subtle and beautiful work, usually led by strong casting and wonderful designs.
Unfortunately, Butterflies misses the mark. While the scenic and costumes designs are absolutely stunning, the casting is confusing at best and disastrous at worst. Ayssette Munoz and Sari Sanchez, two captivating performers, are relegated to the smallest supporting roles. Their language is alive and energetic - it was easy to see that the audience favored their time on stage. Charin Alvarez, a notably excellent performer, is forced into caricature territory here. This is largely due to the laziness of the adaptation, as Alvarez lingers in the shadows and delivers every line with an over-the-top heaviness that removes any semblance of truth from the play. The rest of the ensemble (in some of the leading roles) doggy paddle through the material, trying to make sense of the muddled text, and appear amateurish and out of place. It's impossible to connect to the characters and the story.
The set is pretty to look at, and the projections, while a tad obvious, lend a nice touch to the play. It's a shame that confused direction and an uninspired adaptation could dampen the talents of such wonderful actors and an incredibly powerful tale.
In the Time of the Butterflies runs through May 22 at Victory Gardens. More information here.
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