Daughter of a jazz musician father and dancer mother, Safiya Martinez inherited a lot of music and motion. A native New Yorker, she grew up on the Lower East Side and then moved to the Bronx. Somehow, with no experience or training, she ended up teaching Special Ed at a Bronx high school where even the cab drivers were afraid to go. Her fantastic solo show "So You Can Hear Me" introduces us to nine of her students, all of whom speak in a Latino Bronxese filled with humor, sadness and a lot of life.
We loved all her characters, some little more than sketches and some more lengthy. Perhaps no pastiche is as memorable as her mother dancing with pleasure around her apartment, after she has just cut off her own bandages after breast cancer surgery. Let's not forget the vibrators in the East River, nor every word out of the mouth of her down-but-not-out student José.
In a town filled with some of the best solo performers in the world, young Safiya Martinez does something we have never seen before. Most solo performers come out of character, smile and let you know they're back to their narration. But Martinez draws it out -- she might take several seconds to remove that hoodie, staring intently at the audience all the while. It is unnerving at first, but very effective as the evening draws on.
She's going to be a star. This is a fabulous show you should not miss.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG
The San Francisco Theater Blog awards "So You Can hear Me" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE. Her writing, performance and craft earn one star each. As her show matures and we come to know a little more about her own life, her characters will acquire even more richness. We give the BANGLE for how good Safiya Martinez is already. We can't wait to see more.
"So You Can Hear Me"
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Thursday, Friday and Saturday through July 20
$10-$20 sliding scale