Maria Grazia, who looks to be in her 30s, was born in America. Her loud, bossy, garlic-chomping Italian-immigrant mother constantly embarrasses her. When Maria Grazia performs in a play, Mama hilariously bellows instructions from the audience. What will happen when the pair travels to Mama’s Italian hometown for a wedding?
This hour-long solo memoir by San Francisco-based Maria Grazia Affinito may not be entirely fresh in its take on the cultural generation gap. But Affinito creates vivid scenes, rich with sensory detail, and serves up a deliciously authentic banquet of Italian accent, mannerism and song.
As she reveals the pain both characters have suffered in the past, the story movingly deepens. Perhaps Mama has reasons for being both abusive and adoring; her daughter for being ashamed and closed-off. Perhaps the olive doesn’t fall so far from the tree. Affinito brings heart and insight to the difficult bonds between parents and children, suggesting how bitterness can ripen into acceptance if we can manage to see, and to understand.
— Alison Mayes