Hit or miss: 'Motherhood Out Loud'
Due to its combination of humor and heart, "Motherhood Out Loud" waspicked for Metro's fall preview as a top off-Broadway show to check outthis season. So how did it measure up?
With mommy bloggers competing with cats for overlords of the Internet, it makes sense to sell a show about the tireless theme of matriarchy. Because motherhood is one thing audience of all ages, classes, colors, races and creeds have in common. Whether you are one, have one or none of the above, there's some room for personal dialogue about the role of the mother in your life. In keeping, this play addresses every possible audience, with a broad overview of mommy-type relationships
(ranging from first-time motherhood to a two-father home with no mother
figure of which to speak). The problem is that trying to hit every single possible topic leaves this show a little watery, lacking one consistent theme or voice or opinion — though the writing by 14 contributing authors is strong in each individual segment.
The quartet cast was likable overall, but James Lecesne easily stole the show. His bits included the gay parenting story mentioned above as well as a son who becomes the parent in his relationship with his aging mother. Actors were all at their best in monologues, while several stories involved dialogue between sets of characters as well.
All in all, the show feels a little long — despite only running 80 minutes (no intermission). Each of the vignettes runs about 8-15 minutes, which means they begin to blur together after awhile and you may wind up wondering how many are left to go. You get the point, and despite touching upon multiple angles (first birth, first day of school, coming home) it's all invariably one-note with maternal optimism and appreciation. There will be no plot twists or surprises, like that mothers are secretly awful monsters with no consequence to society.
However, the snippets are nicely arranged to keep emotional balance and dodge repetition where possible. You will definitely attempt to reach out and make your own connections to these very personal tales, but without character through-lines there's not an immense amount of room to get attached. Investing in 19 completely different stories one after the other can be slightly tiring, especially in the transitional beats when you're gearing up to change directions once again. Much like endeavoring quality time with your own mother, visiting "Motherhood Out Loud" is nice for a little while - but then you come to feel you've paid your dues and it's time to head back to your own self-centric life again.
"Motherhood Out Loud" is now playing at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters through Oct. 29 (www.motherhoodoutloud.com).