by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, translated by Catherine Boyle
Directed by Marc Gomes
House of Desires or The Trials of a Noble House both translated titles from the original Los Empeños de una Casa, by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz offers spectators a rare opportunity to witness a Spanish Golden Age comedia that successfully satirizes both the Spanish society of the period in which it is set and the genre from which it springs. Satire, however, does not fully capture the social commentary and broad farce skillfully intertwined to produce this entertaining play.
Set in the house of the siblings Don Pedro and Doña Ana, the beleaguered Leonor arrives on the run from an attempt on the lives of herself and Don Carlos. Doña Ana however has herself fallen for Carlos after tiring of Don Juan’s affection for her. Ana’s brother Don Pedro is also in love with Leonor and has set the intricate trap that brings Leonor to his and his sister’s house. Castaño and Celia the servants of Carlos and Ana add the fuel to this complicated fire that can’t be put out until the romantic confusion reaches a boiling point.
In this production, costume, music and set design transposes 16th Century Spain to a fictional world that lies somewhere the 16th Century and the present. The design elements seek to open for the audience the closed doors of a society dominated by the institutional forces of the Church that continuously push women to the margins as it seeks to uphold suffocating patriarchal values and the honor code of Spanish nobility.