Maria Grazia Affinito “Eating Pasta off the Floor”
Janelle Fine • August 21, 2017 • 2017 Boulder International Fringe Festival
In “Eating Pasta Off The Floor” Maria hopes that a trip with her Mom back to her Mom’s hometown in Italy will help their deteriorating relationship. This one-woman show, written and performed by Maria Grazia Affinito, bares so many layers. She invites the audience into her complex relationship with her mother, while growing up in a poor immigrant family that has been through trauma and adversity, and the embarrassment she feels for her standout mother. With a simple set of just a single chair on stage, and the occasional slight lighting changes, Maria is able to colorfully transform into a multitude of characters, most notably that of her Italian mother, and brings the audience through the city to the olive groves of Italy without even a single costume change. The play uses a trip to a family wedding as the anchor to jump back into shared moments throughout Maria’s childhood, as if flipping through the pages of a scrapbook.
Maria captures the audience in moments of laughter and delight and moments of intensity, describing both physical violence and the struggle she faces dealing with her out of place immigrant mother. I found myself laughing along with the audience at her hilarious impressions of her mother but also sitting in the uncomfortable silence of the trauma surrounding both of their lives. Maria is able to hold both those spaces for herself as well as for the audience. By the end of the show, with the amount of detail in this piece, I felt like I was part of her family or that I knew her mother, and Maria invites us to do so, breaking the fourth wall at moments to directly talk to us. Even though I have not had the same experiences, I have my own relationship with my mother and I was left wanting to call my mother and tell her I love her. Maria invites mothers and daughters to see her show but anyone can relate to the complicated balancing act that is family dynamics in their own life.
You can experience “Eating Pasta off the Floor” at the Pine Street Fellowship