The Color of Desire, a two-act play by Cuban-born, Miami-raised Nilo Cruz, premiered last night at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. Cruz, who won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Anna in the Tropics, sat unassumingly in the audience in a dark ivy hat as his play unfolded before a packed house comprised mainly of geriatrics.
The Color of Desire is set in Havana, in 1960, a year after Castro took power. With the revolutionaries already confiscating property and businesses, and putting their ill-wishers before firing squads, cool-lit Havana invites its bemused inhabitants to indulge in fantasy, if only to escape the frightening reality of Castro’s boots and beard for a spell.
The play opens on Leandra and Albertina, out-to-pasture actresses and probably widows. Relegated to costume mending, the women discuss how time has stolen their femininity.
“Old age is ruthless,” Leandra says. “It doesn’t give a damn what sex we are.”
Enter Belén, the women’s nubile niece, who is distraught about not getting the lead in her company’s upcoming production. But unlike her aunts, Belén has youth – perhaps the one asset even Castro cannot confiscate – and the prospect of her date this evening with a wealthy American shipper soon lifts her spirits. Her aunts share her excitement, but only because they hope the man will rescue Belén from Cuba’s shadowy fate.