By Chance Morgan
There are few more intimate ways to glimpse into the intricacies of a culture than through a family story. “Breaking News from Little Portugal” by Kayla Subica offers just such a look into Toronto’s Little Portugal and the colorful, passionate people who live there. Ms. Subica embodies and impersonates the women of her family, and shares her journey to reunite with her estranged aunt and grandmother (her “vovo”).
Ms. Subica effectively conveys the prevalence of gossip in her culture, and questions how much stake one should put in the things people say. She often heard the lives of neighbors discussed openly, in great detail and with generous amounts of personal opinion. In Little Portugal, health, jobs, marriages, behavior, clothing and many other subjects are discussed in a public forum. Tellingly, Ms. Subica emphasizes even more what is left unsaid, the secrets kept and the topics carefully avoided.
The core of the story is Ms. Subica’s desire to reunite with her grandmother and aunt, whom she remembered fondly from her childhood, but from whom she had become estranged. As Ms. Subica grows older, her awareness of her family life, and of Little Portugal, expands. As she becomes more headstrong and independent, her curiosity grows, and she itches to unravel the mystery. She treats her audience like family invited into the fold of Little Portugal. Ms. Subica, primarily from her own perspective and that of her outspoken Tia Manuela, investigates the gossip and secrecy around her estranged aunt and grandmother. Eventually, the truth comes to light, and Ms. Subica emerges from the revelation stronger than before.
The desire to reconcile past memories and future dreams with present realities is a powerful and relatable one. Sometimes a specific cultural lens grants a deeper insight or an alternative angle through which we can view this desire. Little Portugal’s energetic and passionate heart came through clearly in this show, as did Ms. Subica’s distinct love of storytelling and dialogue – despite a feeling that the story would resonate more profoundly with Little Portugal insiders.
At the end of the day, “Breaking News from Little Portugal” is a charming and engaging tale. On its primary subject of family, it leaves the audience with this fun thought, courtesy of Ms. Subica’s Tia Manuela: family is like underwear. Sometimes it is a good, comfortable fit and provides lots of support, and sometimes it is uncomfortable, messy and not worth it.
“Breaking News From Little Portugal: Everyone’s a Puta (Even your Grandma)”
Written and Performed by Kayla Subica
Nov. 4 at 4pm
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
CHANCE MORGAN is a writer and director currently based in New Jersey. He has worked for Dorset Theatre Festival, Northern Stage, and Bay Street Theatre. He is a graduate of Colorado Mesa University’s theatre program, and spends his time developing his screenplays and musicals.