Review: Matrilineal Memories Inform a Coming of Age in "Mi Abuela, Queen of Nightmares"
Mi Abuela, Queen of Nightmares
Written and directed by Christine Stoddard
Presented by Quail Bell Productions at the Gene Frankel Theatre
24 Bond St., Manhattan, NYC
June 15-26, 2022
|Photo from MI ABUELA, QUEEN OF NIGHTMARES: A STAGE PLAY BY CHRISTINE STODDARD - Home (weebly.com)
Protagonist Maya (Vanessa Vivas) never knew her Abuela (Fiamma Piacentini) while she was alive, but she persists in Maya's life through Maya's mother's stories (Marian Del Valle)–or fairy tales, in Maya's parlance–and artifacts such as the dressing table that Mami uses and the rosary that Maya keeps under her pillow, not to mention trips to tend to Abuela's grave. Maya never knew her White father (Jacob Maximillian Baron) either, for reasons that are made sharply clear, leaving her to compete for Mami's love and attention with Mami's own dead mother, no doubt contributing to the rebellious phase that opens into the climax of the play (which includes a significant doubling by Baron). A scene in which Maya and her mother cook and dance together provides a warm oasis amidst the resentment that often tinges Maya's recollections of their relationship (and dance makes an important reappearance at a critical stage in the play). At the same time, the play asks how Maya's understanding of her mother's and grandmother's own pain might illuminate and contextualize her own.
|Maya (Vanessa Vivas) and Mami (Marian Del Valle). Photo from Patch.com
|Abuela (Fiamma Piacentini) and Mami (Marian Del Valle). Photo from About - MI ABUELA, QUEEN OF NIGHTMARES: A STAGE PLAY BY CHRISTINE STODDARD (weebly.com)
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards