REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Beauty of the Father

By Nilo CruzBeauty of the Father  by Nilo Cruz

Directed by Cecilie Keenan

Produced by Urban Theater Company

At the Wicket Park Art Center

at St. Paul’s Church, Chicago

Richly poetic language adds flavor to Cruz’s family drama

“Being an artist, that’s like being a father to many people.”
—Frederico Garcia Lorca quoted in Beauty of the Father

Urban Theatre Company, in their new digs at St. Paul Church in Wicker Park , have mounted a strong production of Nilo Cruz’s Beauty of the Father. This riveting family drama is set in Granada, Spain that finds Emiliana (Madrid St. Angelo), a painter getting ready for a visit from his daughter who he hasn’t seen in ten years. Marina (Jasmin Cardenas) is the American-raised daughter taken from Emiliana by her mother after she divorced the painter.

Beauty of the Father  by Nilo Cruz

The reunion gives Emiliana a second chance to become a father.  He is painting the martyrdom of poet Federico Garcia Lorca who was killed  in Spain by Fascist soldiers in the 1930’s for being gay and a communist. The ghost of Lorcas (Ivan Vega)  is at hand to give the painter advise on life, being an artist, and a father. Vega effectively delivers Lorca’s poetic language penned by Cruz. These wonderful lines almost overwhelm the family drama.

Beauty of the Father  by Nilo Cruz

Beauty of the Father  by Nilo Cruz

Upon her arrival, Marina – ever the free spirit like her father – quickly falls for Karim (the handsome Nicolas Gamboa). When Paquita (Mari Marroquin), Emiliana’s common-law wife observes Karim and Marina being an item, she tells Marina that Karim is more than a houseboy, he is Emiliana’s sometimes boy toy.  The series of family conflicts deals with infidelity, the role of homosexuality in fatherhood, forgiveness and the desire to re-connect with one’s family.

Beauty of the Father by Nilo Cruz

This is a character driven play that feathers fully developed characters nicely played by the cast. Madrid St. Angelo captures the conflicts within the painter. Ivan Vega’s ironic biting comments underscored the action while Nicolas Gamboa’s nuanced performance nailed his internal conflict when he falls for Marina.

Beauty of the Father  by Nilo Cruz

As the conflicts are resolved, we cheer for these flawed yet likable characters. Can Emiliana learn to be a father? Will Karim and Marina become a flourishing item? When will Lorca stop haunting Emiliana? The answers to all the above (and more) is contained in Urban Theater Company’s engrossing drama. This show is well worth a visit. Cruz pens rich dialog and director Cecilie Keenan’s cast each delivered rich performances.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: October 20, 2011

For more info checkout the Beauty of the Father  page on

At St. Paul Church, 2215 W. North Ave.. Chicago, IL, call 312-239-8783, tickets $20 with student/senior/industry, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with intermission, through November 19, 2011

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