Ni Mi Madre at the Rattlestick Theatre has been extended through September 25th. This show has a lot of good, bad and ugly to it.
Meet Bete, the mother of writer and solo performer Arturo Luis Soria. In just sixty minutes we get to see the life of a woman who has been through the ups and downs of what life has to offer. As she grapples with the secrets that tear her and her son apart, we learn the unbidden memories of her estranged mother and the traditions that keep them apart.
The play further explores the intersection of queerness and Latindad. This work examines to a small degree gender, sexuality, and citizenship. I personally think the play has more to do with identity: hers and Arturo’s as well as past husbands.
Although other family members are mentioned, the play lays bare the secrets, memories and fears of raising a family while getting by in a world that is at hand. With relentless energy, Soria moves about the stage like a whirlwind, dancing, prancing and strutting her stuff. From the beginning when she/he enters in a skirt that becomes a dress, Soria is comfortable in the role and camps it up. She has a grandiose opinion of herself… she was Angelina Jolie before Angelina Jolie. She could have been Madonna. Her Doctor husband is both stupid and boring. She has champagne taste on a beer budget and all the children who are talented and good looking take after her. The three husbands are all to blame and her drinking and pill habit is nothing to even mention in her world.
The play is a mixture of somber, funny and heartfelt moments. Some of the jokes fall flat, as do moments that are supposed to be poignant. Soria tries too hard for the dramatic swing.
The show which is bilingual has too much Spanish language, so for those who do not speak Spanish much is lost.
Under director Danilo Gambini, we get enough of the good stuff to make this play worthwhile. Gambini and lighting designer Krista Smith give the audience the right mood swings and the show ebbs and flows in a quick hour.
The plays essence, however, is multilayered and if you don’t pay attention it will pass you by. I still want to know how has Bete’s mother affected her? Is mental instability a trait among the woman of her family? Just how bad of a mother was she, that Arturo wanted to live with his father? If the dad hated homosexuality, why would Arturo even consider living with his dad? How deep do Bete’s do wounds affect life? As one explores these questions, the play gets deeper and more psychological, and that’s where the interest in the play lies.
If this play had a second act and examined this issues more deeply, it could have gone to a whole other level. But it doesn’t and what we have is a woman who is quirky, and somewhat lovable, infallible and at times down right scary. Although we never get the full story behind Bete, we can only surmise many things; things that would have been better if they were presented more clearly to the audience.
Ni Mi Madre : Rattlestick Theatre, 224 Waverly Place. Until September 25th.
Streaming tickets are available,
ASL performances will be available virtually. If you would like to buy a ticket for an ASL performance, please contact Iman at email@example.com .
Spanish and Portuguese captions will be available for all virtual performances.