Motherhood Out Loud
Review by Tulis McCall
(05 Oct 2011)
This is a wildly uneven and often moving essay on motherhood. In the interest of honesty - I don't have children. I am a woman but never a mother. (99.44 % of the people who will review this show are boy-boys. Danger Will Robinson.) So when I tell you that there were moments that really got me, moments when I had a teensy weensy inkling of that motherhood pilot light - please believe me.
These moments however were sprinkled into this piece and not the constant. Much of this comes from the structure. While it is chronological - from birth to great-grand motherhood, each of these pieces, some only two pages long, are written by different authors, so while the aim is true the content lurches like a boat on high seas.
I was very pleased to see an age range of actors. Randy Graff could have been sidelined to the mother of teenagers but she is in full swing as a pregnant woman, the mother who sleeps on the floor of the nursery as opposed to sharing the bed with her husband who has a cold. She is the touching mother of a boy who would like to go to temple as Esther with a barrette in his hair. And she is glorious as the Great-Grandmother. Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Ruined) is commanding as the mother who drops her 5th child off to school for the first time and refuses to "get over it" as some well-meaning woman suggests. Her tenderness as the new mom sending her own mother off a few days after giving birth is crystal clear. Mary Bacon is most effective as characters with the odd bit or two, but doesn't fare so well in the blunt department where she can slip to overdrive. Her final monologue by Annie Weissman is handled gracefully. She "delivers' that moment when a baby was an idea turned into reality beautifully. James Lecesne is given the Herculean job of first appearing so long after the play has started that it seems like an after thought. What was supposed to be about motherhood now has a late minute substitution with a gay father. He does his best, but the placement is difficult to overcome. His later piece as a man returning to his mother's home to become a caregiver is a direct hit.
This was a great idea on paper, and as I said, there are a lot of terrific, touching moments. This collection absolutely touched me on a level that I had never experienced before. And still I left feeling not quite satisfied. Like I had seen the Crown Jewels but was not allowed to touch them.
Food for thought, though. Lots of food for thought!
What the popular press said...
"Too much ..., feels overly familiar and formulaic."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"A collection of maternal musings that tend to be sweet and slight."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"A frustratingly narrow view of what it means to be a mom."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"Never fails to strike both the funny bone and the heart."
Suzy Evans for Back Stage
"A winning collection of bittersweet reflections about being a mom."
Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey
"Writing is uneven, format needs an overhaul, and the whole show should check into a spa for a style makeover."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...
New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Back Stage - Newsroom Jersey - Variety
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