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LA Theater Review

Mom's the Word

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Motherhood seems to inspire otherwise poised and judicious women to deliver hormonally driven stories about their birth experiences and those of others. No subject is too private or indelicate. When the element of comedy is added to the mix, anything is up for grabs.

This panoply of anecdotes is written by six mothers—Linda A. Carson, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard, and Deborah Williams—and was first performed in Chicago. Director Jerry London elicits congenial performances, but the material doesn't have the heft of its more famous counterparts, "The Vagina Monologues" or "Menopause the Musical."

As the production begins, five moms—Becky Thyre, Susan Giosa, Kimleigh Smith, Gina Torrecilla, and Cathy Schenkelberg—appear, seated in tall wicker chairs, as the audience is treated to a replication of the birth process, setting the stage for recollections about how childbirth has affected the characters' lives. Some bemoan that their careers and intellectual stimulations seem to have vanished, replaced by baby's demands. Men are seldom mentioned as partners in this endeavor.  

Breastfeeding is one topic that gets some traction: The audience is treated to a surprise shower from one unruly mom. The sex-after-childbirth topic takes a hit, too, especially in one lascivious banana-peeling-and-eating moment as one woman suggests alternatives.

From painstakingly detailed descriptions of diapers and diaper pails to babies' eating habits and bodily functions, the moms share a common language and a sisterhood.

Notable is one very affecting thread, delivered by Thyre, following the progress of a premature, 2-pound baby as it fights for life. All the women are credible in their parts, and this will strike a familiar chord with moms who relish the down and dirty along with the magic of parenthood.

Presented by Schenk You Very Much Productions at the El Portal Forum Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Sept. 18–Nov. 8. Thu.–Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (818) 508-4200. www.elportaltheatre.com.

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