Comfort Food for Parents: MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD

A rehearsal photo: With Nora Hussey, Jelena Begovic, Elisabeth Yancey, Evelyn Crossing, Madeline Stern and Apoorva Arora.

presented by Wellesley College Theatre
Written by Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece, Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West
Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein

April 10th – 13th, 2014
Alumnae Hall Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre (111)
Wellesley, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Wellesley) If I could have drawn up a blueprint for your prototypically earnest college play, “Motherhood Out Loud” would probably be it, especially the way it was staged at Wellesley College.  From the very first moment, when the whole cast is incongruously mimicking childhood activities, to the very last, when the cast reunites on stage to say how much they appreciate their mothers in unison, the action surely pleased a crowd stacked with parents of Wellesley College students.  And there is something so adorable about watching the young cast try on the roles of parenthood; it inevitably feels like you’re watching children play dress-up.

And maybe that was the point of this play, but I think it was going for something deeper.  The authors behind this script, a series of monologues on the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a mom, seem to want to encompass every facet of parenthood; it’s a worthy goal, as the most heroic stories of humanity play out every day on the home front, and few of these stories ever get the center stage.

Unfortunately, this play skims the surface and feels scattershot.  While it does an admirable job giving a shout out to immigrant mothers, gay fathers, and mothers of special needs children, it somehow seems to never once mention working mothers; if you’re going to name-drop (which I wouldn’t recommend), be sure to name-drop everybody. And while some of the monologues are poignant, others are just factually wrong. Most comically, the timeline for a gay couple having a baby through surrogacy was condensed by months. Ultimately, between the struggles of the young cast to identify with the older characters they are asked to play and the glossed-over details of the script, the action too often falls into melodrama.

None of this means that I left the theater with dry eyes.  This play is a bit like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series: it may not be great literature, but if you stay with it from beginning to finish, you’re sure to need the tissues.

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