WOLF AT THE DOOR – Written by Marisela Trevino Orta; Directed by Micaela Garcia De Benevidez. Produced by Su Teatro (721 Santa Fe Drive, Denver) through October 29. Tickets available at 303/296-0219 or Suteatro.org.
Playwright Trevino Orta has taken the theme from traditional Latinx folk tales about shape-changers such as La Lechuza (in which a woman turns into an owl) and has created a trilogy of theatrical scripts humanizing the concept. During the first play, THE RIVER BRIDE, a dolphin turned human pursues a bride to retain his human shape, but his efforts do not end with a “happy ever after.” In WOLF AT THE DOOR, there is a more satisfying ending where everyone gets what they want except the villain – who gets what he deserves. A cautionary tale exceedingly well done by the company at Su Teatro.
The very pregnant Isadora and her sister, Rocio are bound together by guilt and the circumstances of Isadora’s marriage to the vicious Septimo. He has brutalized his wife in the latter stages of her pregnancy resulting in an unsuccessful birth of the son he has built his future on. When another pregnant woman, Yolot, shows up in his barn, he suddenly sees another way to get a son. Isadora and Rocio do everything they can to dissuade him from his scheme but must finally take things into their own hands to protect Yolot and the new baby. Of all the endings I had mentally visualized for this scenario as the play progressed, the one illustrated was not one I had anticipated. I love being surprised by a plot turn.
The sisters portrayed by Paola Miranda and Magally Luna have the easy familiarity of family members who have been through good and bad together. Rocio’s guilt over not warning her sister of Septimo’s brutality before she married him binds her to her sister as a protective angel. Magally imbues her every act of servitude with this shame and devotion. Paola plays the wife who, at one time, was deeply in love with her husband and saw a gentle soul in him. She, in typical fashion, thinks she can change him and get him back to how he was during their courting. Septimo is given a brutal reality by Camilo Luera based on being an unloved seventh son in his family growing up. He has great hope for a new life with his own son who he will raise “right.” Camilo walks a fine line between a craven coward who beats women when they do not do as he wishes and the unloved son of a cruel family. How difficult it must be for an actor to be so consistently unliked throughout the whole production when, in reality, he’s a good guy. Natalie Fuentes brings an authentic feral character to her Yolot who is ferocious in her efforts at escape and in her protection of her child. Complications in Yolot’s existence create the necessity for drastic actions on the part of the three women to protect the newborn and allow her to return to her wolf brothers. A riveting and surprising tale.
A set encompassing both the rooms they live in and a barn for the animals designed by Steve Nash gave us a look both inside and outside the house. Costumes were designed by Mica Garcia De Benevidez with shifts for the pregnant women. An uncredited sound designer did a great job of creating wolves in the hills and a horse in the stable. Technically, one of the best shows I’ve seen at Su Teatro AND one of the best acted.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!