A Ghostly Romp: GALA Hispanic Theatre Presents ‘La valentía (Valor)’

Family fights over what-to-do with a home that’s been in the family for generations aren’t usually funny. But when such conflicts are cleverly handled — as is the case with the humor in GALA Hispanic Theatre’s U.S. premiere of “La valentía Valor: A Spooky Spectacular” — they can be a romp.

Luz Nicolás as Trini and Sandra Gumuzzio as Guada play two sisters feuding over how to handle what remains of the family summer home (with its 3-foot-thick walls). While the sisters both love the house, a highway nearby with the constant noise of traffic continually disrupts the peace they once knew there when they were young.

Over Guada’s wishes, Trini wants to sell and has a plan to scare her stubborn sister into leaving by employing professional ghosts to spook the place. So, Trini hires two brothers in the business of haunting houses: Delbis Cardona plays Clemen and Carlos Castillo plays Felipe. “With each increasingly absurd tactic they use to get their way, the sisters encounter mysterious visitors who provide hilarious twists and turns,” the play’s blurb reads.

Guada, however, is determined to stay. And, she’s rented the rooms out on AirBnB. Soon, Víctor Salinas as Martín and Paloma de Vega as Martina, brother and sister, arrive dressed in charming ancestral garments.

What happens next is a wild romp of a screwball comedy ghost story. “La Valentía (Valor)” offers a clever spin as the hired ghosts and the real ghosts interact to the utter confusion of the two sisters (as well as to the wannabe ghosts).

Illustration by Jonathan Olivares, courtesy of GALA Hispanic Theatre

Not to be overlooked: each of the three sets of siblings has their own sets of interpersonal issues. Dramatic and humorous tension unfolds as the fighting gets fiercer — with one sister screaming while the other silently plans the surprise ending.

Spanish playwright Alfredo Sanzol, director of the Centro Dramático Nacional (CDN) in Madrid, says he writes plays as “a way to discover the real nature of human beings.” “La Valentía (Valor)” is drawn from his own experiences of his childhood paradise, the family home. When in the 1980s a highway was built in front of it, his family refused to leave. The characters in the play are metaphors for different members of his family, including himself, Sanzol said.

The play is set in Burgos, in the north of Spain, close to the Basque country and Navarre, an arid landscape with a violent past. The history of Spain is interwovern throughout the work with references to when, over the last 300 years, the family in the play had considered moving. The people had experienced the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and more than 40 years of dictatorship and now with Modernism in the 1960s, the highway close to the house with the traffic noise that made this Guida’s concern.

At its core, “La Valentía (Valor)” addresses the pain in memories in the deceit and stubbornness between the two sisters and in the courage to shatter those memories to survive — all the while relating a ghostly story told in the richness and beauty of the Spanish language.

Puerto Rican/Dominican director José Zayas returns to GALA for his seventh production which includes an outstanding special effects team, most essential to this production. Special mention to scenic design by Sam Klaas, lighting design by Christian Henrríquez, costume design by Alexa Duimstra, and sound design by Justin Schmitz. Jon Townson is the technical director, P. Vanessa Losada is production manager and Hugo Medrano is the show’s producer.

Performed in Spanish with English subtitles, “La Valentía” runs through May 14, 2023, at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW. For more info go here.



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