Maria Gonzalez (left) and Sandra Ruiz in "The Madres." Photo by Daren Scott
The simmering tension of The Madres takes awhile to boil, but when it does, Stephanie Alison Walker’s play overflows the theater with passion and anguish. Moxie Theatre is one of four U.S. companies rolling out the world premiere of Walker’s work based on the true story of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, courageous women under that nation’s dictatorship between 1976 and 1983 whose sons or daughters were kidnapped and even killed by the regime. Moxie’s production co-directed by Jennifer Eve Thorn and Maria Patrice Amon is profoundly affecting, in large part owing to the committed performances of Maria Gonzalez as Josefina and Sandra Ruiz as Carolina, a mother and daughter in search of Carolina’s own missing child.
The entire story unfolds in Josefina’s Buenos Aires apartment in 1979. Establishing the dangerous circumstances and contextualizing them in terms of Josefina and Carolina results in a slow-paced if suspenseful beginning to The Madres. The events that follow intermission, however, personify all the human drama that makes these women’s longing and agony so gripping. For a piece rooted in history, The Madres connects in contemporary terms to the plight of women today, in another country in the other America, mobilizing for justice. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 5/30/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.