BWW Reviews: The Mystery of THE MARIA PROJECT Unravels at 59E59 Theaters


59E59 Theaters welcomes Pure Projects, Inc., in association with Uncle Frank Productions with the Off Broadway premiere of The Maria Project.  Written and performed by Marcella Goheen and directed by Larry Moss, The Maria Project runs now through April 1st.  Using documentary footage, music and story telling, The Maria Project takes the audience on Marcella Goheen's spiritual quest to uncover the mysterious disappearance of Maria Salazar – her grandmother.

Through a road trip that takes Marcella, her mother and in turn the audience across America, we hear the voices of three generations of the Salazar family.  Over seventy minutes, Marcella unearths an unknown family history in search for her grandmother.  Along the way, she is forced to face a deep secret that ultimately shapes her family's destiny.

This is an exceptionally admirable project.  By uncovering the history of Maria Salazar and her ultimate destiny, Marcella Goheen gives voice to domestic violence.  Sadly, this issue is more pertinent today than ever.  The Maria Project is doing great work to highlight coalitions and agencies that work daily to help women, children and families affected by domestic violence.

Overall, this was a strong one-woman show.  Marcella Goheen, along with Larry Moss, does a great job of multimedia integration to make transitions relatively seamless. Marcella Goheen is the first person to admit (and she does it in the show) that she is not a cinematographer.   I liked the fact that her video footage was frankly rough.  It made the footage approachable, something anyone of us could have shot.  It made the context of the show that more believable.

If I could find one thing confusing, or leaving me wanting more, it would be an element of the writing.  Marcella is driven to find out about the disappearance of her Grandmother.  Along the way, she finds out a darker secret about the lineage of her Aunt.  Although, the point of the piece was to highlight a family reunited, this through line about the secret is dropped.  Was this secret linked to the ultimate fate of Maria Salazar?  That question is never fully answered.

The second thing that left me underwhelmed would be the blocking.  I understand that I was watching a one-woman multimedia piece. Establishing worlds and characters requires some out of the box thinking.  I felt that the blocking on a whole relied a bit too much on clichés.  I found myself predicting movement three moves before they happened.

Predicable staging and unfulfilled plotlines aside, The Maria Project is a great example of a multimedia show.  The story is exceptionally compelling.  The multimedia is dynamic.  Most importantly, The Maria Project sheds light on an extremely importantly social issue that is as important today as it was when Maria Salazar met her fate eighty years ago.

The Maria Project opened March 11th and runs through April 1st.  Performances are at the 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street).  Tickets are available at Ticket Central and the 59E59 website.

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From This Author Trish Vignola

Trish Vignola comes to BroadwayWorld New York from BroadwayWorld Chicago. When she is not reviewing Theatre, Trish also writes for and the Yes Network. (read more...)

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