Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Sheila Tapia, Veronica del Cerro, Maggie Bofill and Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey
The adaptation of Julia Alvarez's novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents receiving its world premiere at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, has charm and occasional intensity but never succeeds in being anything more than a series of semi-connected vignettes. Playwright Karen Zacarías depicts individual moments, snapshots in the lives of the four Garcia sisters from their early childhood in the Dominican Republic and their later lives in New York City, but the play lacks the sense of connection that the original novel must have. Maybe it's also overly literal in an atmosphere that demands magical realism.

Milagros Ponce de León's scenic design symbolizes the characters' two lives: a tree-shaped hole in the sky that reveals a scene of either New York fire escapes or the Dominican flag. The story begins in 1990 with Yolanda (Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey), a writing teacher who wonders why she lost interest in her own gift as an author, as the family gathers for her father's birthday. The scenes progress in reverse chronological order, ending with young Yolanda and her uncle (Bryant Mason) before the family left for America.

The other sisters are imperious Carla (Maggie Bofill), the oldest; Sandra (Sheila Tapia), considered the most beautiful as a child; and outspoken Sofia (Veronica del Cerro). They have a variety of problems during their lives, including divorce, unrealistic expectations of men and romance, bullying by schoolmates, and the differences they must navigate between their beautiful and tropical but politically repressive homeland and the freer life they find in New York. Perhaps it isn't a surprise that emotional isolation and depression are a common thread in their experiences.

The four actresses do well in conveying their characters, successfully shifting from their immobility in middle age to bubbly, imaginative childhood. (Kate Turner-Walker's costumes help with the conversion.) Marian Licha and Emilio Delgado are fine as the stalwart parents, while Mason gets to show off as the various men in the sisters' lives, including a smarmy hippie poet, a good-hearted German, a domineering Dominican, and a well-meaning priest.

Round House Theatre
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
September 17th —October 12th
By Karen Zacarías, based on the novel by Julia Alvarez
Yolanda: Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey
Carla: Maggie Bofill
Sandra: Sheila Tapia
Sofia: Veronica del Cerro
Papi: Emilio Delgado
Mami: Marian Licha
Others: Bryant Mason
Directed by Blake Robison
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-644-1100 or

Photo: Danisha Crosby

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