Courtesy photoIn “What Is the Scandal?” Eliana Lopez describes what happened when her husband

Courtesy photoIn “What Is the Scandal?” Eliana Lopez describes what happened when her husband

Lopez’s ‘Scandal’ tells story behind abuse charges

At last, Eliana Lopez is telling her side of the story about what happened when her husband, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, was detained in 2012 on domestic violence charges. An actress since age 15 in her native Venezuela, she’s doing it in a bilingual one-woman show called “What Is the Scandal? / ¿Cuál es el Escándalo?” at the Mission Cultural Center.

Full of engaging personal details, it’s interesting and enlightening for locals who couldn’t get enough of the juicy story when it dominated headlines for months. At the same time, those not familiar with the case (did it create such a sensation outside the Bay Area?) may not find the piece as compelling.

Lopez, speaking mostly in Spanish (with English subtitles flashing on a screen behind her), has appealing energy, narrating the tale and portraying its major players — her husband, mom, grandpa and an old friend. The bad guys, Mr. Lie (who has a mustache reminiscent of a certain mayor of San Francisco) and her neighbor, are composites of people and organizations that wreaked havoc on her family during the difficult period.

Written and directed by Lopez’s brother Alfonso, the hourlong show’s best parts are Eliana’s own descriptions of events as she experienced them. It’s satisfying to hear her version of her difficult transition to San Francisco, becoming the wife of a politician and having a baby soon after. She also acts out the heated discussion she had with her husband that led to the bruise on her arm, which was shown in the video that was the catalyst for the criminal accusation. She also clears up confusion about what she told her neighbor who shot the video, who then, Lopez says, betrayed her by bringing it to authorities.

Most of all, she evokes sympathy in communicating her own mounting fear, confusion and inability to deal with the personal and increasingly political situation — some thought it was an attempt by opponents to remove her husband from office — as it spun out of control in the public arena.

Her other characterizations are less successful; the bad guys (particularly the neighbor who calls Latinos “savages”) are one-note, and her allies, while serviceable, aren’t amazing. Lopez wears hats to identify a few people, and dons a pair of glasses and speaks slowly and deliberately as her husband. Very basic production values include an intermittent slide show of pictures that adequately complement the story (though it might be nice to see more).

In the end, “What Is the Scandal?” retroactively provides a fascinating, previously unreported angle to one of The City’s more notorious recent news stories. It may not be enough to give it appeal to audiences not tuned in to “only in San Francisco” politics.

REVIEW

What is the Scandal? / ¿Cuál es el Escándalo?

Where: Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays; closes June 7

Tickets: $20

Contact: (415) 643-2785, www.missionculturalcenter.orgartsEliana LopezRoss MirkarimiWhat Is the Scandal

Just Posted

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

The 49ers take on the Packers in Week 3 of the NFL season, before heading into a tough stretch of divisional opponents. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
‘Good for Ball’ or ‘Bad for Ball’ — A Niners analysis

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner What’s the first thing that… Continue reading

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

The Grove in Golden Gate Park is maintained largely by those who remember San Francisco’s 20,000 AIDS victims.<ins> (Open Eye Pictures/New York Times)</ins>
Looking at COVID through the SF prism of AIDS

AIDS took 40 years to claim 700,000 lives. COVID surpassed that number in 21 months

Most Read