In Times of Trouble
Written and performed by Martha Chaves
Part autobiography, part stand-up comedy routine, this one-woman show is often very funny and, occasionally, even moving.
Telling the story of her life through her alter-ego, Maria, comedienne Martha Chaves describes her childhood in Nicaragua, the earthquake and civil war that forced her and her mother, Gloria, to seek refuge in Guatemala and why her mother sent her to Montreal when Martha/Maria was just 17.
Primarily, In Times of Trouble is a way for Chaves to work through her conflicted relationship with her mother. The “dragon lady” ruled with a rod of iron as she was growing up, says Maria, even reading her diaries — the one she kept for public consumption and the private missive, describing all the details of her sexual encounters.
Gloria must have known from that time that her daughter was gay. And though Maria knew that her mother knew, she did not dare to come out to her. Only when her mother was near death and her daughter returned to her side to care for her, did she defend her daughter to her religious mentor. Only once does Maria indicate her pride in her mother’s achievements as a lawyer, who had to re-qualify when they changed countries.
In Times of Trouble is entertaining as it stands. It could be much stronger if the talented Maria Chaves were also a more disciplined performer, who did not play the stand-up card ahead of the actor aspect or stray from her script as often as she seems to do. No director is listed for the show. If this means that the writer/performer is her own director, she is losing the opportunity to add another dimension and an outside view to a work in progress that could have much more general appeal.
In Times of Trouble continues at Live on Elgin to May 28.
Lighting: Barry Sims
Sound: David Ing
Stage manager: Val Bogan