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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
Motherhood Out Loud
Once you join the motherhood club, you're not the same any more..— Actor 3
Just about anything you ever have thought as or about a mother finds its way into Motherhood Out Loud, a compilation of the mom experiences of some of today's best known playwrights and authors playing its world premiere at Hartford Stage. Randy Graff, Amy Irving, James Lecesne and April Yvette Thompson (identified only as actors 1-4) interpret the different mothers from diverse experiences in the work co-conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein, and directed by Lisa Peterson.
April Yvette Thompson, Amy Irving, James Lecesne and Randy Graff
(Photo: T. Charles Erickson)
The 20 sketches are grouped into five "chapters": New Moms, Real People, Teenage Years, On Their Own and Coming Home. The actors, often with scripts in hand or on music stands, much in the style of the popular Love, Loss and What I Wore running Off-Broadway, become the various moms. They mostly perform solo, but sometimes join voices.
Because there are so many different kinds of moms represented in the work there is something to which everyone can relate (you can almost imagine Rose and Stein going down a check list of every possible kind of politically correct type of family that could be represented). There's the work-at-home mom trying to juggle kids and business, the mom avoiding invasive questions from strangers about why she adopted, the immigrant mom who misses her own son's childhood in El Salvador while she nannies in the US, the stepmom, the gay dad/mom, the empty-nest mom, and more.
Some of the most engaging sketches feature an Islamic mother helping her daughter through her first period, an extremely funny mother-in-law-to-be waiting to help her prospective daughter-in-law at the bridal shop, a moving look at a mom worried about her soldier son in Iraq and a poignant piece where a mom struggles to come to terms with her son's sexual identity. Somewhere along the way, you'll recognize yourself, your mom or someone you know. The anxiety expressed by the moms concerned about their daughters wearing only bikinis under their graduation gowns, for example, was nothing compared to the stress I experienced over what my son actually wore under his, believe me, but I felt their pain.
There's a nice balance between humor and drama and the 20 stories pass quickly in the 90-minute, no-intermission format. Transitions between the pieces are seamless thanks to Jill BC DuRoff's original music accompanying Jan Hartley's really pleasing animated images and child-like drawings projected on Rachel Hauck's clean geometric backdrop.
Hartford Stage has scheduled a number of programs celebrating mothers in conjunction with the show including a special Mommy Matinee, where lap babies are welcome (Thursday, March 18 at 12:30pm).
Motherhood Out Loud
Co-conceivers: Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein
Written By Leslie Ayvazian, David Cale, Pat Candaras, Jessica Goldberg, Rinne Groff, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Brett Paesel, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Adriana Trigiani, Annie Weisman, Cheryl West and Christine Zander & Mark Nutter
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Cast: Randy Graff, Amy Irving, James Lecesna and April Yvette Thompson
Scenic Design: Rachel Hauck
Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski
Costume Design: David C. Woolard
Original Music and Sound Design: Jill BC DuRoff
Projection Design: Jan Hartley
Animations Design: Emily Hubley
Running time: 90 minutes no intermission
Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford
Performances: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. Matinee performances are Sundays and selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 pm.
Tickets: $23 to $66 available by calling 860-527-5151, by visiting the box office at 50 Church St., Hartford or online at http://www.hartfordstage.org.
Feb. 24-March 21, 2010
Review by Lauren Yarger based on performance of March 3, 2010
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