Monday, May 11, 2009

Liz Gassimi Reviews V-Day Performance in The Home Reporter

Arts & Entertainment
Home Reporter and Sunset News
By Liz Gassimi

Restaurants open so often in this neighborhood that a lazy stroll down Bay Ridge’s Restaurant Row (otherwise known as Third Avenue) usually yields some new culinary discovery. Whatever your pleasure – Thai, Japanese, French – Bay Ridge has it all! My personal philosophy is that a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that looks intriguing can often be a good bet. The little place becomes “mine,” until eventually, of course, it gets discovered by the rest of the chowhounds in the immediate area, and pretty soon there’s a line outside and so much for “my” little getaway. The next time you’re in the mood for some very sabroso Mexican food, stop by Mandato. The place sports a jukebox that blares Mexican cumbia and ranchero music, replete with “Yay-yay ya yays,” which will serenade you as you dig into some of the tastiest tacos, enchiladas, and taquitos that you’ve ever had. Ask for the freshly-made agua fresca – fruit juice mixed with ice and water for a refreshing and cooling treat. Even the taco chips and homemade salsa are wonderful and will whet your palace for the spicy fiesta that is to follow. Mandato is at 7218 Third Ave., 718-492-4228.
In this column, I’ve mentioned before the wonderful work that Dr. Nicoletta Pallotta does with her organization, Women Against Violence, through Brooklyn Women’s Services. They help provide a support system for women who are in, or have been in, abusive environments. They can help with counseling, and educating women to stop being victims of violence, and they recently helped sponsor a performance of playwright Eve Ensler’s “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” at New Utrecht High School. The show consists of a series of performers standing, one at a time, on a bare stage, reading a monologue into a single microphone. Each monologue is a few minutes long, and there is no scenery or costumes to distract the viewer from what’s being read. The result is that you focus entirely on the text. You listen, you concentrate, you are swept away in the moment. Some of the monologues describe abuse; some are happy; some are na├»ve; and some describe violence that makes you cringe. The factual, dispassionate way these monologues are delivered is part of what makes them so strong. Yes, the actors convey the fear or shame contained in the words, but even the shameful stories are told. We want to turn away from a monologue about rape, or a beating, but we cannot. What we must do is turn the shame of abuse away from the women, and back on to the perpetrators of these violent acts. We must re-educate our societies, and this is what shows like “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” are about: raising consciousness. Masterfully directed by Daniella Sanson, and featuring a cast drawn from Brooklyn locals including Anthony Rinaldi of The Pearl Room, the show was a tremendous success and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other actors featured were: Alexia Tolomello, Jason Bellido, and Virginia Cantone. Karen Emma performed on the piano, and singer Wendy St. Kitts opened up with a powerful rendition of “Women Empowered.” You can contact Women Against Violence at Brooklyn Women’s Services is at 9201 Fourth Ave., 718-748-1234.

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