Sunday, October 2, 2011

Motherhood Out Loud ***

This new offering at Primary Stages, a collection of 20 sketches, some funny, some sad, by 14 playwrights, some well-known, some not, makes for a very pleasant way to spend 90 minutes. Each sketch deals with some aspect of motherhood, from giving birth to being a great-grandmother. Some of the sketches that most impressed me dealt with an autistic son's mother trying to be helpful on his first date, a mother answering her adopted Chinese daughter's questions, a mother trying to deal with her young son's desire to dress as Queen Esther for Purim, a soldier's mother trying to allay her fears, and an adult son facing the first signs of his mother's memory loss. The quartet of actors -- Mary Bacon, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Randy Graff and James Lecsene -- are all excellent. (I will confess that I always welcome the opportunity to see Ms. Graff onstage.) The large colorful squares of the Mondrian-like backdrop by Rachel Hauck turn into screens for Emily Hubley's whimsical animations and Jan Hartley's projections. Lisa Peterson's direction is seamless. Susan Rose and Joan Stein conceived the project. Admittedly, some of the material seemed cliched, but for me its sincerity made up for its familiarity. I'm sure it will be eagerly performed by theater groups around the country. I hope it finds its audience here in New York.

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