Once again, Looking for Lilith has accomplished their goal to bring unique, quality, good theatre to the Louisville area.
Becoming Mothers is a production that will hit close to home for every woman…and every man who has ever known a woman, for that matter.
The show, which was developed in a collaborative effort by a 14-member devising team led by Jennifer Thalman Kepler, brings together the experiences of a variety of women during their child-bearing years. The concept is fantastic, and the team has done a commendable job in creating a touchingly poignant piece which is just as likely to make its audience laugh as it is to make them cry.
Becoming Mothers explores the journey to motherhood from a vast array of perspectives, from women just-married and fending off the dreaded, “When are you going to have a baby?” interrogations, to the trials and joys of adoption, fertility treatments, conception, pregnancy, and labor. It also delves into the commercialization of motherhood, spoofing on the diaper industry and providing a downright funny take on the drama of buying baby clothes.
Becoming Mothers is hilarious. And educational. And touching.
And full—so full—of those, “amen” moments, where every woman in the audience nods her head and smiles knowingly.
In addition to producing truly thought provoking (and funny) theatre, LFL has endeavored to make Becoming Mothers a learning experience for any audience members who are interested. The production features talkbacks on a variety of topics after selected performances, and they have scheduled a workshop at Mama’s Hip on May 15. In fact, new parents will want to keep the program itself, as LFL has created a usable resource with listings for area services.
The production is a series of vignettes; of women telling their various stories of conception—or lack thereof—in quick bursts, overlapping each other, but tied with common themes. Most of the first act featured these stories as short monologues, with other actors in the scene providing support as silent partners. This choice was effective at first, but grew a bit tiresome as the audience waited for actual conversations to occur.
In the second act, the characters’ interactions became more vocal and played very well, most notably in a hilarious scene where two parents-to-be stand over an ovulation calendar trying to coordinate their schedules like plays in a football game.
Closing in on three hours (with intermission), the show stretched beyond a comfortable length, due in part to transitions that were smooth, but a bit too frequent, as well as a few scenes that didn’t click—a game show spoof on fertility treatments just didn’t measure up to the rest of the script.
But the good moments far outweigh the rest.
The cast is solid, and director Jennifer Thalman Kepler has paired characters with actors in a way that makes the production shine. Dawn Schulz lights up the stage, embodying each of her characters with such a fullness that one could swear they were being played by different people. Kelly McNerney and Ebony Jordan are strong ensemble members, and when Sara G.B. Canary struggles through 60 hours of labor, the entire audience cringes for her.
The Looking for Lilith performance of Becoming Mothers is the first fully produced staging of their original work, but it won’t be the last. This baby is going to have a long, bright life.
Becoming Mothers continues through May 18 at the Victor Jory Theatre at Actor’s Theatre. Tickets for the special 2pm Mother’s Day performance on May 12 are two for $25. Tickets to the Thursday, May 16th performance are $10. Tickets for all other performances are $18 for adults; $15 for students and seniors, and may be purchased online or by calling 502-584-1205. They may be purchased in person at the Actors Theatre box office to avoid ticketing fees.
Image: Courtesy of Looking for Lilith