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Actors’ Summit’s ‘Motherhood’ ‘sentimental, moving’

4/11/2013 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

DOWNTOWN AKRON — “Motherhood Out Loud” could easily be described as a Hallmark card for Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, “Motherhood Out Loud,” which is now playing at Actors’ Summit Theater, runs through April 21 and will miss Mother’s Day.

The production is 18 short scenes, which view motherhood from delivery through being a great-grandmother. Each segment deals with a separate issue of motherhood — a mother who is exhausted, a mother whose child doesn’t want to participate in high school graduation, a mother whose son is a soldier in Afghanistan, a mother whose children don’t show up for Thanksgiving, and a gay man, who with his partner, hires a surrogate to give birth to their child. Each section is poignant. Some deal with life and death, others deal with life’s issues in a comedic style.

The opening night performance ran about 100 minutes without an intermission.

The four cast members are Shani Ferry, Paula Kline-Messner, Gabriel Riazi and Sara Grewitt. Ferry, Kline-Messner and Riazi have worked with Actors’ Summit in other productions. Grewitt is a welcomed addition to the company.

Director Constance Thackaberry kept the action moving at a brisk pace. She had to fight some of the sentimental scenes in order to maintain emotional control of the show. She helped her cast develop different, well-defined characters.

The various authors focused on motherhood and, for the most part, left the husband or father out of the storyline. What is performed on the stage is entertaining but seems only half of the story. One husband is ill in the next room. One woman is divorced and has trouble communicating with her ex-husband. Most of the women seem to have to fight the battle of motherhood alone.

The play was conceived by Susan Rose and Joan Stein. The various scenes were written by Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Anne Weisman and Cheryl West. The writers have extensive credits on TV, film and the stage.

Henley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, wrote the scene titled “Report on Motherhood,” which deals with a conversation about birth control between a great-grandmother and her great-granddaughter.

The cast is excellent. Most have long monologues and occasionally have a scene with dialogue with another character. In a scene titled “Elizabeth,” by David Cale, an adult son has moved into his childhood home and lives with his mother. Riazi and Ferry play the son and mother. As the scene evolves, Ferry’s character develops Alzheimer’s, and she knows she can’t be alone and can’t go out in the world. The son realizes his mother is losing her mental functions and knows he can’t move out and leave her.

“Motherhood Out Loud” is sentimental and moving. This show could be a good night out of the house for the women in the family.

For ticket information, call 330-374-7568.

 

David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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