Photo : Blue Dot Imagery
This past weekend I had the privilege of seeing Nicole Maxali’s – pronounced “Mah-SHAH-Lee” – solo performance, “Forgetting the Details.” The story of Maxali’s journey from childhood to adulthood as she navigated some hard realities of her family, the plot revolved around her relationship with her grandmother and the impact of the onset of her Alzheimers on the family. A comic and actor, this was the first time that I have seen Maxali in any performances and she presents a powerful story that reaches beyond the Filipino American context from which she speaks and touches upon powerful elements of the human experience.
From the official description . . .
Things aren’t right at home. Nicole’s lola (Tagalog for grandmother) is starting to forget more and more details. But now it’s more than misplaced keys. In a span of three months she changes the locks on all the doors, starts driving on the wrong side of the street and shoplifts Rocawear and Sean John outfits from Serramonte Mall. As the family struggles through her grandmother’s descent into dementia, Nicole faces the conflict between being a respectful Filipina apo (Tagalog for granddaughter) or pursuing her American dream of being the first Filipina-American actress to win an Oscar. What’s a Fil-Am girl to do?
Another great production from the newly re-opened Bindlestiff Studio, “Forgetting the Details” reminded me a great deal of Alex Mapa’s solo production, “I remember Mapa.” Like Mapa did as he walked us through the tensions between the expectations of his Filipino family and his individual yearnings, Maxali beautifully wove together the subtitles of Filipino American life – rice with every meal and spot on accents – with greater themes of familial redemption and individual freedom. While some of the narrative transitions were not always smooth, when she delivered the true life stories, her words came from a deep place of emotion and transformation. Her anger, sadness and devotion were raw and real as if this were the first time she had shared these memories. I was extremely impressed with the control she had that took us from one emotion right to another as we would in real life, moving from a place of deep sadness to healing fits of laughter. She walked us through her story with a gentle hand, never losing control of the audience or her own presence. Her use of movement and sound to switch back and forth between characters during some of the fast paced dialog was extremely well done, making this some of the best story-telling I have ever seen.
If you have a chance to make it to see the show this weekend, I would highly recommend it. I took my 15yo daughter to see it, but would not go much younger than that as there are various moments of strong language and adult situations. Oh, and compared to the last performance that I saw at the Bindlestiff when the theater was sauna-esque, as promised, Nicole made sure the A/C was crankin’ 😉
Catch “Forgetting the Details” this week:
- Showtimes: November 17, 18, 19 at 8:00pm
- Tickets: $15 In advance, $20 at the door [buy tickets]
- Location: Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth Street @ Howard, SF
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