I love dramatic, unforgiving soap operas just as much as the next person. Well, turn up the dial on sexy, add a couple of Spanish songs and throw in a Salsa dance or two and your basic soap opera turns into a telenovela! If you have every watched “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix, then “Destiny of Desire” is right up your alley. I even suggest you listen to “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo on the way to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. You’ll end up doing the cha-cha in the lobby while grabbing your drinks and snacks.
A very simple set of hardwood floors, a black grand piano and candles makes a great contrast against the elaborate costumes the actors wear. It puts the focus on them the entire time. What do a nun, a rich casino owner, a greedy doctor, a poor farmer and his family have in common? Lies, deceit, and a little lighthearted incest. Yes, it’s okay to laugh and match this scenario with a dysfunctional family you know. Maybe even your own!
It’s starts on a dark and stormy night. Two pregnant women from vastly different backgrounds are rushed into the hospital to give birth. Fabiola Castillo, played by Ruth Livier, gives birth to a baby girl with a weak heart. Dr. Mendoza, played by Mark Torres, does not believe she will live long. Believing that her husband murdered his first wife, Fabiola does not want to disappoint him with a feeble child. She stops a nurse carrying the healthy baby girl of Hortencia, the wife of the poor farmer, played by Yassmin Alers. Fabiola comes up with the grand scheme to switch the babies so that she can present a healthy one to her husband. The doctor agrees after a verbal contract is made — the Castillos will donate a large amount to the hospital.
The poor farmer and his wife are unaware of the switch and love the child as their own. 18 years pass, and the lies begin to unravel. To sum it all up: someone gets shot. Someone goes to jail. The two babies switched at birth meet each other unknowingly. There is an alleged affair, a real affair, a couple of kissing cousins and a wedding. If you are gasping and clutching your pearls while reading this, then this play may be too much for you.
The best part of this production are the props and music. The actors create their own captivating slow-motion moments by literally moving in slow motion. They rewind scenes by frantically reversing their steps and actions. Countless facts are provided throughout to offer a little clarity and some humor to what you are witnessing. I admit I did not fact check to see if every detail provided was true. A few that stood out to me were “Chance encounters have a 25% higher rate of failure than online dating,” “65% of minimum wage workers are women who experience sexual harassment” and “Over one third of women have kissed a girl and liked it!”
Everyone on stage has a strong voice that carries throughout the large room. A couple of the songs are in Spanish while most are in English. The Latin dancing was hypnotizing. I swayed in my seat as I watched each person roll their hips, turn and twist on stage.
My mom and I laughed throughout the entire play. She may have been slightly annoying tapping me to explain how she believed the lies were connected before the truth came out on stage. But I love my mother. We both particularly liked that a few Cinderella fairy tale aspects were thrown in — switching back at midnight and loss of a glass slipper, you know the drill.
Honestly, no matter what kind of genre you’re into, this play covers it all. “Destiny of Desire” has action, comedy, drama, romance and suspense. If you sprinkle in their side-stage facts, it might even be considered a documentary! I strongly recommend this theatrical delight to anyone over 14 years old.
Marissa Staples is a Cincinnati published
author and writer for The Voice of Black Cincinnati. She developed her love of
arts from her mother, Kandi. Being a native of Cincinnati, she loves to travel.
If she is not traveling, you can find her reading, writing, volunteering or
drinking wine. Wine always brings smiles, friends and creative dialogue.