Posted in adoption, autistic children, birth, birthing, dating, empty nest, gay parents, motherhood, mothering, parenthood, parenting, single parents, surrogate mother

A Mother’s Joys, A Mother’s Suffering, Parenthood 101

The concept behind “Motherhood Out Loud” is to have a tag team of writers, some playwrigts, some novelists, weave tales of the joy and pain of motherhood.

Created in the spirit of “Love, Loss and What I Wore” or “The Vagina Monologues” but using fourteen authors to voice the show and a permanent cast of four to give embody it, “Motherhood Out Loud”
, in a Primary Stage production at 59E59 Theaters through October 29th, is the brain child of producers Susan Rose and Joan Stein.

The episodes, divided into five “Chapters” each with four scenes, cover the ground from giving birth to finding an empty nest, or as Cheryl L. West puts it in her segment, “Squeeze, Hold, Release.”

(L to R) Mary Bacon, Randy Graff, and Saidah Arrika Ekulona. Photo credit: James Leynse. 

Michele Lowe, the most prolific of the contributors in “Motherhood Out Loud” frames the intros of each selection of scenes with things she calls “Fugues” as in “Fast Births Fugue” or “Graduation Day Fugue.” Ms. Lowe also wrote a couple of skits (“Bridal Shop” and “Queen Esther”) for the show.

.(L to R) Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Mary Bacon and Randy Graff Photo credit: James Leynse. 

The stories like the ones from Marco Pennett (“If We’re Using a Surrogate, How Come I’m the One with Morning Sickness”), David Cale (“Elizabeth”), Leslie Ayzavian (“Threesome”)or Claire LaZebnik (“Michael’s Date”) feel very personal.

Other monologues — for instance by Beth Henley (“Report On Motherhood”)
or Jessica Goldberg (“Stars and Stripes”) feel more imagined.

Some of the material just seems a bit generic, like Brooke Berman’s “Next to the Crib,” for example.

James Lecesne Photo credit: James Leynse. 

Mary Bacon (Actor A), Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Actor B), Randy Graff (Actor C), and James Lecesne (Actor D) willingly work back and forth through the copious bits and pieces that include adoption, senility, in-laws, and parents, sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes misfiring.

Parts of “Motherhood Out Loud” are funny, or moving, or surprising, but it remains a pastiche, and somehow the parts just don’t add up to a whole play.

Posted in athletes, comedy, family, love story, parenting, parents and children, politics, rock and roll, siblings, teens, young love

A Tall Order: Anna Kerrigans "The Talls"

Anna Kerrigan’s fine new play, “The Talls” would probably benefit from a more seductive title. Family in dysfunction can have so many iterations, but this one is fresh and beguiling.

Set in a small California town in the 1970’s, “The Talls” at 2econd Stage Theatre Uptown, through August 27th, focuses on the rudderless Clarke children.

Everything in “The Talls” encapsulates the 1970s. The actors are perfectly dressed by Jenny Mannis and the Clarke living room, in a set by Dane Laffrey, is evocative of “The Brady Bunch.”

Big sister, Isabelle (Shannon Esper) feels responsible for keeping her siblings on track. She makes sure they get their homework done, keeps Christian (Michael Oberholtzer) from picking on Catherine (Lauren Holmes) and makes sure that their youngest brother, Nicholas (Timothee Chalamet) gets ready for bed.

Gerard Canonico as Russell James with Shannon
Esper as Isabelle [Photo (c) Joan Marcus] 

The parents, John (Peter Rini) and Anne Clarke (Christa Scott-Reed) are pre-occupied– mostly with dad’s career and aspirations in politics, but also with Anne’s friendship with Sister Connie, one of the children’s teachers.

Christa Scott-Reed as Mrs. Anne Clarke and Peter Rini
as Mr. John Clarke [Photo (c) Joan Marcus] 

Anne, who has forgotten about Christian’s and Catherine’s ball games in the early afternoon, comes home to remind them, over an early cocktail, to get ready to meet their father’s political advisor, Russell James (Gerard Canonico).

Isabelle is not just the oldest in the family, she is also the smartest, and in some ways, despite her youth, the wisest. She is, also, the most daring. Isabelle longs for freedom from the straight and narrow. Her dreams of being a hippie are partly fulfilled as the comedy reaches a poignant outcome.

To find out more about Anna Kerrigan’s “The Talls,” please visit http://2st.com/