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Secrets of a Soccer Mom
This is the second collaboration of playwright Kathleen Clark and director Judith Ivey (last season Ivey directed Clark's Southern Comforts at Primary Stage). The two are so in tune one hope this may be the early stages of a long association.
In real life, Clark is a soccer mom who lives in Leonia, NJ. The play grew out of a mother-son game similar to the one portrayed in the play. Two of the actresses in the play, Deborah Sonnenberg, who plays Lynn, the workaholic; and Nancy Ringham, who plays Nancy, a feisty former model who wants to try her hand at photography, are also Bergen County soccer moms. The third actress is Caralyn Kozlowski, who plays the athletic Allison, the most troubled and perhaps most central character of the trio.
The three women at first decide it is important their children win every game. "This is about the kids having fun, not about us going for the goal," Nancy says. But soon their competitive spirit and need for self-actualization takes over, and the women organize to show their kids that their moms are not exactly pushovers.
All three women love their children. But they feel trapped by their responsibilities and resentful of husbands who are distant, unsympathetic and uncommunicative. They regret lost opportunities and abandoned careers. Lynn notes that "It is a sad fact that we have to say goodbye to the lighthearted girl that used to be."
In between their complaints they encourage and chastise their children on the playing field. They admonish them to pay attention, leave the butterfly alone and run toward the goal posts and not away from them. When one of their children falls out of a tree, his mother runs offstage to comfort the crying child.
Although the women are supportive and understanding of each others problems, their interaction has its rocky moments. Lynn, who arrives with her PTA work and sets up a makeshift desk on a garbage pail, is resentful that the other women don't pitch in and do their share. She feels that no one respects or appreciates her hard work. Allison is reproached for not always going along with the program. The women are not above making catty remarks both in front of each and behind their friends' back.
Clark's dialogue is filled with the flippant one-liners that characterize sit-coms. And there certainly is no attempt to delve too deeply into these women's psychological problems or the societal pressures that have caused them. Yet, by the end of the play, each one of these women has her own distinct personality that rises above the cardboard characters that populate nighttime TV comedy.
Ringham and Sonnenberg, who are producing the show, have included a free glass of champagne and a free massage with the purchase of ticket. There's also a boutique in the lobby of the Snapple Theater where products such as novelty stationery and vases are for sale.
Clearly the producers have a largely female audience in mind. But Secrets of a Soccer Mom should appeal not only to women, who will recognize themselves onstage, but also to men, who will recognize their wives.
To read a review of Clark's Southern Comforts go here.
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