Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ya Mama!

NINA DOMINGUE, superb actress, proficient author!

The Cleveland area has many fine actresses. One of the area’s female theatrical gems is Nina Domingue. She has proven over and over her versatility and ability to mesmerize an audience.

In YA MAMA! Domingue not only fills the stage with a multiple number of characters, but has written an emotional biopic as well.

In the extended one-act YA MAMA!, Domingue, with the help of director Cathy Hartenstein, showcases the pain and joy of being Nina. The action is up close and personal in Cleveland Public Theatre’s Storefront Studio where no seat is more than three rows from the performer. And, for the run of the show, there was almost never an empty seat.

Domingue takes her viewers on a journey from her New Orleans birth place, through the suicide of her mother, a victim of Post Partum Syndrome, to a short period of living in Cleveland with her mother’s family, back to New Orleans when her father remarries, to the abusive treatment at the hands of her step-mother, to her return to Cleveland where she finally finds a place of acceptance, and flashbacks to what happens when Katrina hits the Big Easy. We experience the birth of her three children, and her burgeoning career as an actress and a mother. Though the play is not quite as polished as her performance, it’s quite a ride.

The set is simple. A series of stools. On each surface a symbolic item is placed. As the plot unfolds, items like the bottle of Drano that her mother drank to kill herself, an apron, and a strap, are picked up as symbols of the items of importance in the actresses life.

Domingue a master of facial, body and vocal expression. At the blink of an eye she transforms herself into a child, her four-year old son, Nina as a mommy, and a victim of abuse. She gives a masterful performance.

Capsule judgement: YA MAMA! is a short evening of revelation and self-discovery presented by one of the area’s most proficient performers. Ya Nina!