Left to right: Irma Gill as Vanessa, Savannah Baez as Belen, Andrea Carillo as Adoracion. | Photo courtesy of the Theatre Film and Dance Department

Review: Adoration of the Old Woman

Culture, true love and ultimate forgiveness all wrapped up in one play

Culture, true love and ultimate forgiveness all wrapped up in one play

The HSU Theatre Department presented a beautiful performance of “Adoration of the Old Woman” originally written by José Rivera. This was a wonderful story of reconnecting to culture, true love and ultimate forgiveness. The play also sheds light on a country once independent and free now taken over by corrupt governments.

The play follows an old Puerto Rican native at an age “between 100 and 150” named Doña Belén played by HSU student Savannah Baez. Doña is snarky and humorous but also deals with a dark past.

AD3.JPG Left to right: Irma Gill as Vanessa, Savannah Baez as Belen. | Photo courtesy of the Theatre Film and Dance Department

Haunted by the ghost of her late ex-husband’s mistress Adoracíon played by HSU student Andrea Carrillo, Doña is in a state of sorrow and has constant lack of sleep. Adoracíon was a beautiful young woman and seeks freedom from the house she seems to be trapped in. The two start off with immense conflict and appear to genuinely hate each other.

Doña’s great-granddaughter Vanessa played by HSU senior Irma Gill, visits Puerto Rico by the orders of her mother, Doña’s daughter. Vanessa comes from a modernized world in the United States and knows basically nothing about the island or its culture.

Vanessa and Doña find themselves unable to communicate because of their language barrier. With the help of characters like Ismael played by HSU student Isiah Alexander and Cheo played by HSU student Victor Parra, Vanessa finds herself reconnecting with her culture as she tries to understand the values of Puerto Rican freedom.

AD2.JPG Left to right: Savannah Baez as Belen, Irma Gill as Vanessa, Andrea Carillo as Adoracion | Photo courtesy of the Theatre Film and Dance Department

Ismael is a charismatic guy who enjoys a bit of fun and is also for the Statehood of Puerto Rico because of minor benefits that the states have to offer. Cheo is strongly against Statehood and wants to get rid of American influence that has completely messed up the values of their once-proud country.

His activism shows his passion for his culture, and although he went to college in the states Cheo came back home to fight for his beloved country. This builds up extreme tension between the two childhood friends, causing heated arguments and eventually two incredibly realistic fight scenes. The stage combat was nicely done, and usage of fake blood and makeup provided an amazing touch causing the audience to fall completely silent.

Vanessa soon falls in love with her culture, her grandmother Doña and Cheo who taught her so much about the importance of the freedom Puerto Rico deserves. Cheo and Vanessa share something special, they care for each other deeply and it surely shows through Parra and Gill’s impeccable acting.


Vanessa does her best to take care and speak to her ailing grandmother Doña and after spending much time together, the two relatives grow to love each other. Even a surprise twist at the end expresses the true feelings that Adoracíon shares with both Doña and Vanessa. A heartwarming act of forgiveness was revealed between Adoracíon and Doña, bringing them peace during Doña’s last moments.

Lead by the direction of Robi Arce and a set design built to perfection by the works of the artistic staff, “Adoration of the Old Woman” was a success.

The rate of conflict and emotional hardship along with various amounts of humor to balance the story really had the audience in for a treat. Laughter and occasional “oohs” and “awes” were heard throughout the Gist Hall theatre.

Isabel Sunglao, a child development major in her last year, said that she loved the play and was happy to see it.

“I liked it, it was pretty intense,” Sunglao said. “I loved it though, I’m glad I came.”

“Adoration of the Old Woman” highlights the devastation of losing a country’s freedom. This is taking place and has taken place for many years. Colonization is a method of control that has destroyed many cultures for economic growth and desire.


Amy Beltrán, a HSU senior theatre major, expressed her feelings about the political issues that the play demonstrates.

“I think it is a beautiful story, a very important story politically right now, something that should be talked about,” Beltrán said. “It brings up a lot of issues that are going on with Puerto Rico but also Mexico and all over the world.”

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