Alzheimer's disease and dementia have been at the forefront for decades now in medical news, especially for the elderly and their families. San Francisco's Bindlestiff Studio has approached these issues with the play, Forgetting the Details, a co-production with Sabrina Sandalo and Nicole Maxali, who wrote this one-woman show.
Forgetting the Details is directed by Paul Stein and is the remisnicing chronologically of Maxali's life experiences with her grandmother, Encar (short for Encarnacion); her father, Junior; her mother, Luna; her uncle Danny; and her stepmother, Eleanor. It is a wonderful and must see show, especially for those who have family or friends suffering from these medical conditions.
Maxali (pronounced Mah-sha-lee) is quite the talented writer. The play is filled with great language, including the nice mixture of Tagalog and some Spanish. For example, the description of the elementary school scene of Encar giving ice cream to Nicole's classmates was quite vivid. And the itemizing of Junior's artistry was simply unforgettable, especially the tree he painted as a portion of a mural in the Bayview District of San Francisco.
There's so much flavor in her words that you can almost taste the richness of that ice cream or Pilipino delicacies like pansit or adobo. The writing is certainly first rate.
Maxali's performance is certainly of high quality though there's much room for improvement. When describing the women in her piece, she was lively and descriptive of the ladies, especially with Encar, her Lola (Pilipino word for grandamother).
However, she was not as committed in her portrayals of the men, regrettably with that of Junior. The physicalizations of her father were too subtle, and she needed him to be rougher around the edges. Additionally, there was one moment when she "slammed" a box down but wasn't hard enough at all. She was too careful not to damage the box.
Stein did well in helping Maxali narrow the show down to a 75-minute performance without an intermission. Though if it were expanded, this show would be nice to see at 110-120 minute performance with a short intermission. Expanding the roles of her parents and their story would be joyful to watch; or even better, if it opened up to at least three more actors for the roles of Encar; Junior; and Luna/Eleanor, the story would be even more entertaining.
The technical portions of the show were simply outstanding. The literal and symbolic images of the storage boxes on stage were clear in remembering Encar and Junior. Stein's sound design was appropriate while his lighting design captured every spot of the performance space and the transitions were perfect in capturing the mood and tone of the play.
Forgetting the Details concludes its run this weekend performing Thur-Sat, Nov. 17-19, 2011 @ 8 pm each evening at Bindlestiff Studio, 185 - 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94111. For tickets, call (415) 255-0440 or click on the links below:
Bindlestiff Studio: http://www.bindlestiffstudio.org/?q=node/644
Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/204428