Make us your home page

Tampa native's 'Questions My Mother Can't Answer' runs through Sunday

Andrea Caban in her solo show Questions My Mother Can’t Answer.

Photo by David Flores

Andrea Caban in her solo show Questions My Mother Can’t Answer.

In the dark theater, you hear traffic noise and footsteps on the sidewalk. Then a gasp and the sound of a sickening collision.

So begins Questions My Mother Can't Answer, Andrea Caban's solo show — she is author and performer — about her quest to figure out herself after being hit by a New York City cab. It was directed by Rachel Eckerling.

In what she calls "documentary theater," Caban's method is to interview and then play a series of women who toggle in and out of the 75-minute work at the Straz Center's Shimberg Playhouse. The women are in their 60s — a sexy Moroccan ballroom dancer, a mountain gal from Idaho, a gum-chewing "donations only" prostitute, a late-in-life lesbian, the loquacious Aunt Shirley and others — but the main character is called Andrea.

Caban, a Tampa native who has toured her show in the U.S. and internationally, is a wide-eyed gamine in tights and a green wrap, a plucky Disney heroine type with a pendant hanging from her neck. She has a knack for the accents and physical quirks of her characters. It's a testament to her acting that you are never confused about who is talking despite quick cuts from woman to woman.

However, the point of her well-crafted play is elusive. Adding to the trauma of the accident, Andrea's marriage is lukewarm and her career is an insecure mix of regional theater roles (the godlike narrator in Craig Wright's The Pavilion) and personal assistant jobs in New York. At 33, her biological clock is ticking.

"I don't know how to be a wife, or even a woman," she says. "It would be insane to want to add 'mother' to the list, right?"

Andrea's mentors provide "deep friendships I don't necessarily have with my mom." But when her mother enters near the end of the play, she is accessible enough in recounting things like her courtship, marriage and divorce with Andrea's father. Similar to the other women, for all their passion and flair, she ultimately falls back on conventional wisdom to offer motherhood as the answer to her daughter's questions: "And you're gonna be a mom. One day," she says.

At the performance I saw, there were clearly members of Caban's family on hand, judging from the animated responses in the audience to some of the lines, several of which were pretty personal and candid, such as references to her father's mental problems and selfishness. But she also suggests that he was pivotal in encouraging a life in the theater. Her father was beaming after the show when he introduced himself to me.

Questions has performances at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. $28. (813) 229-7827 or (800) 955-1045;

Blarney: Lunasa, a crack Irish band, returns this week to play at Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center. With five musicians on traditional instruments — pipes, fiddle, tin whistles and flute — plus double bass and guitar, but no singer, the group brings a touch of jazz, rock 'n' roll and bluegrass to the Celtic sound. Their Tarpon concert is at 8 p.m. Thursday. $28. (727) 942-5605;

Chant: Florida Pro Musica makes one of its typically intriguing appearances this weekend, with a performance of the Mass for the Third Sunday of Lent. With Gregorian chant in Latin, interspersed with scriptural passages read in English, the hourlong Mass of music and meditation reaches back a thousand years. Directed by Larry Kent, it is at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 515 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 896-2101;

John Fleming can be reached at or (727) 893-8716.

Tampa native's 'Questions My Mother Can't Answer' runs through Sunday 02/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 6:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 17: Think 11 miles of nothing but straight trail and open, flat fields sounds easy? Think again.


    Day 17: Villarmentero de Campos to Lédigos: 33.5 km, 10.25 hours. Total for Days 1-17 = 394 km (245 miles)

  2. Tom Sawyer with a revolver? Twain house has live 'Clue' game


    HARTFORD, Conn. — Was it Tom Sawyer in Samuel Clemens' billiard room with a revolver?

    In this July 14 photo, actor Dan Russell, left, portraying the character Arkansas from Mark Twain's book Roughing it, responds to a question from 10-year-old Emma Connell, center, of Arizona during a "Clue" tour at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Conn. The tour allows visitors to interact with Twain characters while playing a live-action version of the board game. [AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb]
  3. Until this song, Alan Parsons Project stood on much higher ground


    Listening to yesterday's Keats song made me pine for more Alan Parsons Project music and today we dig deeper into their catalogue with Standing On Higher Ground.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 23


    Marie Antoinette: Freefall 411: A contemporary look at the historic pariah looks at Marie Antoinette through the lens of society's obsession with celebrity. Through August 13. A brief talk prior to the performance provides insight to the production. 1 p.m., show starts at 2 p.m., Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central …

    Lucas Wells as King Louis XVI, left, and Megan Rippey as Marie Antoinette in Freefall Theatre's "Marie Antoinette."
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 22


    Snooty the Manatee's 69th Birthday Bash: Snooty, documented by Guinness World Records as the oldest known manatee in captivity, turns 69 and celebrates with children's games, art activities, cookies, drinks , interaction with Snooty the mascot and reduced price museum admission. 10 a.m., South Florida Museum, 201 …

    Snooty the manatee poses for a photo Thursday morning while three young manatees are unloaded from Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa Thursday morning at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
PAUL VIDELA/ 12/20/07