By Dee Jae Cox
“Giving birth is little more than a set of muscular contractions granting passage of a child. Then the mother is born.”
― Erma Bombeck
Mothers! Everybody’s got one. And few shows will make you appreciate the levity or the poignancy of motherhood more than “Motherhood Out Loud,” currently in production with Dezart Performs. Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein and written by Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West, the show is presented through a series of vignettes.
From birth through old age, mothers who strive for perfection and mothers who just strive to make it through another day at the park, these stories are heartwarming and gut wrenching. It’s so seldom that a play can make you laugh and swell up with tears with equal measure, but this one manages to do just that.
In closing out their tenth season, Dezart Performs, has brought together a top tier ensemble of talented performers. Theresa Jewett, Melanie Blue, Leanna Rodger, Desiree Clarke and James Owens, who all give stellar presentations of characters that are as real as they come. Theresa Jewett’s, performances in “Queen Esther,” as the mother of a seven year old boy who wants to wear a dress and “Stars and Stripes,” as a mother whose son has gone off to war, both reached in and took hold of my heart.
Melanie Blue, whose work I have admired in other productions, knocked it out of the park with her presentation of “Michael’s Date,” shedding insights into having an autistic child. Desiree Clarke’s, “My almost family,” defined poignancy, as a woman who was on the outside looking in on a family she longed to be a part of. Leanna Rodgers, “Next to the Crib,” gave new motherhood a reality check and James Owens’ “If we’re using a Surrogate, how come I’m the one with morning sickness,” was a touching slice of life moment on being a gay dad.
Whether they were together in a scene or doing individual monologues, this was a talented cast taking ownership of a wonderful script. Michael Shaw’s direction was simple and perfect. The staging was weaved together seamlessly as each story transitioned into the next. Thomas L. Valach’s minimal set and Shaw’s purposeful blocking was all this play required to convey the impact of these heartfelt scenarios.
I loved this show. From curtain up until curtain down, it was engaging and entertaining and just so much fun to watch. It definitely deserved the standing ovation that closed out the opening night.
“Motherhood Out Loud,” is recommended for family members of all ages, whether you’re a mother or just happen to know one, you will enjoy this show. It can be seen through April 8th, at Dezart Performs, located at the Palm Springs Women’s Club, 314 S Cahuilla Rd, Palm Springs, CA
For show and ticket information: http://www.dezartperforms.org/
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project