La Jollas Adoration of the Old Woman

It's a relatively minor problem in an otherwise gripping scene. In a choice that mirrors the public debate Rivera presents so skillfully, Vanessa has to decide whether to live with ghosts or to move on and live a full life. Can a people—can people—be so mired in the past, so respectful of the dead, so conscious of shadows, that they refuse to step into the present? In the wake of the anniversary of Sept. 11, it's a question with obvious resonance.

Vanessa makes her decision, and if Rivera never really seems to make his—the decision about Puerto Rican self-determination—he has left us with the evidence we need to make one for ourselves. And in that he fulfills what the physician-turned-playwright Anton Chekov said is the writer's chief responsibility: not providing a cure, but correctly diagnosing the problem.

Adoration of the Old Woman at La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, (858) 550-1010. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Through Oct. 20. $39-$49; tickets for patrons under 30 available for $10 up to a week before performance; $12 rush tickets available after 7 p.m. on day of show.

Catch more Joel Beers on his radio program, Theater Rant, on KUCI- FM 88.9 Thursdays, 4-5 p.m.

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