Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle


As Robert Kincaid says in THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, "Rarely does this kind of certainty come around in life."


Rarely is there much certainty in theater: normally, you can enjoy equal security by betting on a Super Bowl Game or by picking a show.


While you can do nothing to improve your Super Bowl odds, you can do several things to improve your odds of picking a winner on stage.


For example: select a play by a Pulitzer Prizing winning playwright like Nilo Cruz.


Second, choose a play that has won a Pulitzer Prize: such as BEAUTY OF THE FATHER.


Third, decide on a rising theater company that in its brief four years as an acting entity, has won several bay area theater critics' awards: like Off Broadway West.


Fourth, pick a show directed by a director who has won bay area theater critics' awards both as a director and as an actor: someone like Richard Harder.


And finally pick a show with an absolutely stunning actress from Alameda, who will dazzle you, enchant you and sling you back in your seat: someone like Natasha Chacon.


Rarely does this much recognized success and promising new talent all converge within an intimate theater like the Phoenix of San Francisco.


Natasha Chacon is the Aspidistra that keeps BEAUTY OF THE FATHER flying.


As Marina, she is absolutely endearing: exuberant and courageous, while as vulnerable and fragile as a tundra flower.


As an actress, Miss Chacon shows an emotion range that would surpass any reasonable director's expectations.


Much to her credit, Miss Chacon has the ability to credibly breathe contrasting emotions, the tension of opposites, complexity and conflict into her multidimensional character.


Marina grieves for her recently lost mother; is ecstatic to be reunited, after ten years, with her artist father in Spain, and is torn between two continents, two men and two divergent depictions of her father: Emiliano.


Sara Krulwich of the New York Times very accurately describes this play as "A study in emotional fireworks;" the fuse and the pyrotechnics can both be traced to Marina and Miss Chacon.


Great performances by Chris Holland as the compromised Karim and Durand Garcia as the Artist Emiliano, round out this superb cast.


With such a superlative cast, it is difficult to discern where prudent casting ends and great directing by Richard Harder begins.


If you enjoy intelligent theater that is exotic, romantic, emotional and as richly complex as Catalonian sangria, then BEAUTY OF THE FATHER is not to be missed.


Off Broadway West performs at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street in San Francisco.


Tickets may be obtained via or by calling, when not in heavy traffic, 1-800-838-3006.