In truth, this central romance is problematic. Why does Juan Julian glom onto Conchita, the married woman, when her sister is ready and available? Is it instant attraction, and if so, why? And why does Conchita step out with Juan Julian immediately after quarreling with her husband? The coincidence suggests that she is using adultery as a deliberate weapon in a marital war, not as an unexpected avenue for self-discovery. Whatever her motive, Conchita is unleashed by her affair, and when she faces down Palomo at the end of the first act, they are at a strange emotional crossroads. Each now knows of the other's affair, and each wants to hurt the other while still desiring the other. But the second act centers more on crimes of a different character. Why does Cruz opt to pull away from his steamy sex triangle just when it is about to venture into uncharted erotic waters? Such speculations could go on and on, not because Cruz's new play is so flawed but because it is so rich.
Like wine and cigars, good theater takes time to develop. Well into its 17th season, the New Theatre has patiently followed traditions that nowadays have fallen out of favor: loyalty to a core acting ensemble and devotion to classical texts combined with a commitment to developing relationships with playwrights. The company has recently been acknowledged by the venerable Drama League as one of the 50 best theaters in the nation. If you're wondering why, Anna in the Tropics will tell you all you need to know.