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Previewed 27 January 2005, Opened 1 February 2005, Closed 21 March 2005 at the Playhouse Theatre in London
The RSC present Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz's House of Desires in London directed by Nancy Meckler as part of the 2005 Spanish Golden Age Season.
House of Desires is a comedy about a brother and sister caught in a web of love and confusion, written by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a celebrated playwright and scholar of the age. A brother and sister are entangled in a web of love with four others with everyone under one roof, mayhem ensues as all six characters struggle to be alone with their lovers, and we try to work out who really loves whom.
The cast for House of Desires in London includes William Buckhurst, James Chalmers, Claire Cox, Julius D'Silva, Rebecca Johnson, Katherine Kelly, Joseph Millson, Vinta Morgan, Emma Pallant, Oscar Pearce, Peter Sproule, Simon Trinder and Joanna Van Kampen. This play is presented by the RSC in a new translation by Catherine Boyle. It is directed by Nancy Meckler with movement/choreography by Liz Ranken with designs by Katrina Lindsay and Es Devlin, lighting by Ben Ormerod, music composed by Ilona Sekacz and sound by Martin Slavin. Staged in repertory with two other productions - Pedro, The Great Pretender and The Dog In The Manger - these three plays transferred to London's West End following a season at the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon during 2004.
"You don't think of 17th-century Mexican nuns writing satirical comedy; nor do you associate the RSC with Spanish farce. Yet in 1683, Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz created the basis for this sprightly version by Catherine Boyle, given an inventive production by Nancy Meckler... It is all very entertaining, especially when Meckler imposes the convention that light is dark, so we watch the cast blundering around a blacked-out room in daylight. The play's emphasis on locked doors and dark rooms suggests the confinement of a convent, but is also a metaphor for the imprisoning code of honour De la Cruz, watching from behind her grille, sends up so effectively." The Sunday Times
"House Of Desires by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is on the late side compared with Lope de Vega and the like, but this ebullient meditation on love and honour is the jewel in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Spanish Golden Age season to date... As artistic director of Shared Experience, Meckler specialises in an imaginative, non-naturalistic style which honours both the textual and the physical aspects of theatre... A delightful revelation, all told." The Financial Times
"This play is, essentially, a rather enchanting bit of fun. There are some longueurs and you're almost bound to lose the plot, it waxes so baroque. Yet the pleasing twist is, the characters admit in asides that they've not got the foggiest either. Sor Juana was, in fact, spoofing Caldern de la Barca's cloak-and-dagger dramas and - though some of the satire is undoubtedly lost on us... Nancy Meckler might have intensified a few more moments of farcical craziness and contrasting poignancy. However, her freeze-frame asides are neat, and she animates Leonor's longest speeches with ingenious simplicity, symbolically exploring the power of words and imagination... This is a visually exquisite production throughout, with a softly glittering gold set and with both flamboyance and finesse in its costuming - grey silk bodices, scarlet petticoats and studded breeches." The Independent on Sunday
House Of Desires in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 27 January 2005, opened on 1 February 2005 and closed on 21 March 2005.