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Review: 'Water By the Spoonful' is vivid, human

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Any conquest, however small, can't be fully assessed without considering the cost of achieving it, the failures that preceded it and the environment in which it occurred.

In Quiara Alegria Hudes' beautifully resounding drama "Water By the Spoonful," the playwright examines an array of emotional toils by splashing together droplets of life's bleak realities, harsh revelations, fragile successes and modest triumphs, all of which conspire like tiny specks of contrasting colors on a canvas.

Each drop of color by itself seems mundane. Together they gradually come into focus as a rich, brilliant montage of American urban life that is as dazzling to watch as it is difficult to look away from.

This inspired and abundantly human play, which was the surprise winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama, opened Tuesday at off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre, making its New York premier after an initial run at Hartford Stage in 2011.

It is the latest shining example of Hudes' uniquely understated yet powerful voice, which came to prominence in her book of the Tony Award-winning musical "In The Heights."

In "Water By The Spoonful," she spins a loosely interwoven, dual narrative about a young Iraq war veteran's tumultuous family and an online support group of recovering drug addicts.

Early in the opening act, grieving cousins Yazmin (Zabryna Guevara) and Elliot (Armando Riesco) leaf through brochures for funeral flowers while reminiscing about the strange and wonderful days of their poverty-stricken childhood in their large, closely knit Puerto Rican family.

Astonished by the prices in the catalog, they worry openly about making ends meet, though stopping to recall the splendor of a garden once cultivated by their recently departed aunt — an adored matriarch in their extended family.

"It's odd to order flowers when someone dies," Yazmin laments. "The flowers are just going to die, too."

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