By Yani Perez . . . 

Eva Lunawritten by Caridad Svich with direction by Estefanía Fadul, is based on Isabel Allende’s novel by the same title. This production, presented by Repertorio Español, warms the soul and enlivens the spirit. 

Eva Luna tells the story of a young girl who overcomes poverty and her family’s loss. Eva (Andrea Velasco) is a charming young lady with an unlucky start in life. Her mother passes away, leaving her to fend for herself and find family amongst strangers she encounters along her path. Eva never met her father because he left shortly after recovering from his injury, which her mom, Consuelo, helped nurse. They both worked at a professor’s house, where he was a gardener, and she a housekeeper. A snake bites the gardener, and Consuelo helps him heal. It was during this time that Eva Luna was conceived. 

Consuelo (Belange Rodriguez) passes away, as does the professor, so Eva is left to take care of herself. Her godmother finds her another home to work in, cleaning and looking after an elderly woman. Although the elderly woman is senile and cranky, Eva enjoys being there because she has the company of Elvira (also played by Belange Rodriguez), the cook. They develop a friendship and Eva’s stories enthrall Elvira. She is a gifted storyteller, and this gift will ultimately lead her to a new life. Although Eva must endure loss and sadness, she remains optimistic. Velasco’s performance is enchanting. She captures the audience with her upbeat and humorous portrayal. Rodriguez also delivers a solid performance.

The story continues with Eva Luna running away from the house due to attempts of physical abuse toward her. She finds herself alone again, but not for long. She runs into Huberto Naranjo (Gonzalo Trigueros), who will become her life-long friend. He brings her to a brothel and introduces her to the La Senora, portrayed by a dynamic Zulema Clares, who runs the place. Eva befriends her, and she ends up spending many years there. She is relatively happy with her newfound family, La Senora and the other ladies who work at the brothel. Here she meets Mimi (Fernando Vieira), who becomes her teacher. She gets the opportunity to study and learns to read. She also continues telling stories that the ladies enjoy. Her stay eventually runs its course when the police chief raids the brothel because of a letter they wrote supporting sex workers’ rights. She finds herself alone again and looking for a way to survive. 

Her path leads her to yet another house, where she will be a companion for the lady of the house, Zulema (Zulema Clares). They become close, and Eva continues sharing her stories—creating worlds and characters to entertain Zulema. Zulema falls in love with her husband’s cousin and enters a deep depression because he leaves, and she knows she can never be with him. She commits suicide, leaving her husband, Riad (Jaime Puerta), and Eva distraught. Eva must leave the small town and return to the city, where she encounters Mimi, her beloved teacher, and friend, upon her arrival. Their reunion will bring her the opportunity and stability she has longed for her entire life. 

Eva’s story is hopeful. It creates a space for dreams and the magic of storytelling. Her positive energy and love of life are moving. Eva Luna is a powerful story of love, perseverance, and triumph. 

Eva LunaThrough June 26 (and back again in August) at Repertorio Español (138 East 27th Street, between Third Avenue and Lexington). Performed in Spanish with English subtitles. 

Photos: Emmanuel Abreu