You don't have to have an Italian mother to appreciate Maria Grazia Affinito's solo show Eating Pasta Off the Floor -- a Jewish, Greek, or any other old-world ethnic one will do. Affinito observes her tempestuous with her outspoken parent through the prism of a visit to the home country for a family wedding. Maria's mama is the kind of colorful character that strangers adore and relatives can't stand: offering to sell her single daughter to the Spanish-speaking supermarket clerk, scavenging aluminum cans for the garbage, and eating raw garlic instead of her diabetes medication.
Affinito feels trapped between worlds -- her mother's rigid traditions, which insists that topics like divorce are verboten; the schoolyard scraps of their mostly-Hispanic barrio; and the All-American existence to which she aspires. At first, the humiliations Maria's mom loving dispenses are a source of mirth, but the tale darkens as it progresses with wartime atrocities and domestic abuse (including the titular trauma).
The script's episodic structure is a little too scattershot to build a strong narrative through-line, and some major incidents like a kidnapping are curiously glossed over. But Affinito's mercurial shifts from tragedy to comedy consitently commanded my attention. A little pathos, a little popera, and a welcome lesson on having patience with our parents make this transatlantic trip worth taking.
Note: This review is based on a preview performance that the press was invited to attend.
Eating Pasta Off The Floor
Maria Grazia Affinito (San Rafael, CA)
Rating: G14 (Adult Language)
Run Time: 60 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Solo-Show
Fri, May 17 2013, 6:00p.m. - 7:00p.m.
Sat, May 18 2013, 7:30p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Sun, May 19 2013, 10:45p.m. - 11:45p.m.
Mon, May 20 2013, 10:00p.m. - 11:00p.m.
Wed, May 22 2013, 7:30p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Sat, May 25 2013, 9:15p.m. - 10:15p.m.
Sun, May 26 2013, 9:00p.m. - 10:00p.m.