Review: Nancy Ma finds her 'Home'

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  • Jill Weinlein, Chief Los Angeles Critic

The one woman show ‘Home’ written and performed by Nancy Ma at LATC is a real, raw and vulnerable story of a woman’s journey to attain the American dream. Directed by Geoffrey Rivas, he is quite the multitasker. Not only is on the board of the Latino Theater Company, but he is also acting in the show Canyon in the upstairs theatre.

On the opening night of ‘Home’ Rivas shared with the audience that when he met Ma one year ago and learned about her story, it became his story too. “Anyone of color will feel this story relates to them.”

Walking onto a barren stage, Ma with short black hair is dressed in gender neutral attire - jeans, white t-shirt, and bare feet. Throughout the 90 minute show, she becomes almost 20 different people by changing her body language, facial expressions, and vocal inflections.

Since Ma’s parents immigrated from Toisan, China to Chinatown in New York City, she was given an American name and a Chinese name that means horse, gem, and good reputation. Ma speaks English and Chinese throughout the show, especially when she transforms into her father, uncle, mother and grandmother. Even if you don’t know the dialect of Chinese she is speaking, you understand what is being said by her response in English.

She becomes her abusive, alcoholic father who continually has a cigarette in his mouth; bookworm sister who half listens to her; taunting uncle; elderly shuffling grandmother; and mother who encourages her to be a strong and independent woman.

Ma feels she must live up to her esteem name, yet struggles growing up sandwiched between two cultures. Rivas has Ma look directly into the audience at times, and then jump back into a scene as one of her family members or friends.

Not happy living in a studio apartment with her family, she has us laughing while she dreams of becoming Miss Hong Kong as a young girl, and excitedly gets accepted into a prestigious high school. She knows college will bring her true freedom, yet knows her family will be disappointed when she gets into Williams, instead of Harvard.

Williams College was four years of firsts for Ma, including her first love, first breakup, and first time experiencing pot roast.

After college, she moves to San Francisco to work at a law firm, yet after having an epiphany, she decides to move to Los Angeles to become who she is today, an actress.

In the end, we discover Ma searches for the best “home,” yet when the world doesn’t treat her quite right, she returns ‘Home,’ a community she knows, and finally finds acceptance.

The Los Angeles Theater Center

Previews: Feb. 28 and March 1

Performances: March 2 – March 24

Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 28 (preview), March 7, March 14, March 21

Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 1 (preview), March 8, March 15, March 22

Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 2 (opening night), March 9, March 16, March 23

Sundays at 4 p.m.: March 3, March 10, March 17, March 24

The Los Angles Theatre Center - 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles CA 90013

To purchase tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or go to thelatc.org

For group sales, call (213) 489-0994

Ticket Prices: $24-$60