Total Rating: 
March 31, 2010
May 9, 2010
Bay View
The Boulevard Theater
Theater Type: 
The Boulevard Theater
Theater Address: 
2252 South Kinnickinnic
Running Time: 
90 min
Patricia Durante & Betsy Tuxill
Mark Bucher

 What's your reaction when you pick up the phone and the person on the other end says, "It's your mother." Frustration? Joy? Guilt? Curiosity? Anger? Your answer may well decide your own reaction to the Midwest premiere of It's Your Mother!,a new play by Patricia Durante and Betsy Tuxill produced by Milwaukee's Boulevard Theater. The play was first performed during the Summerfest 2009 series at Off-Off-Broadway's Manhattan Repertory Theater.

According to the show's press materials, the 85-minute play was based on a series of real-life encounters between the playwrights and their mothers. Be advised that this is no valentine to motherhood. With humor and poignancy, the show focuses on the complicated relationships between mothers and (mostly) daughters. The production has a large cast of 15 female (and one male) actors. Thankfully, only a few actors appear on the Boulevard's postage stamp-sized stage at one time. As per usual, sets and props are minimal.

Interestingly, mothers rarely appear in the show's series of vignettes. More often, they appear in snippets, often lasting 30 seconds or less, to relay voicemails to their children's answering machines. After awhile, the messages (more than 20) become interminable. Only one is truly hilarious – when a mother (Lisa Golda) begins singing a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" to her son's answering machine, only to remember about half-way through that she dialed her daughter's number instead. (Gee, didn't the phone message tip her off?)

The vignettes are hit-or-miss, too. Two of the best vignettes involve some of the production's more experienced actors, which undoubtedly contributes to the material's success. In one scene, a mother (Christine Horgen) and her adult daughter (Nicole Gorski) meet at a restaurant to discuss the daughter's upcoming wedding. Although the daughter admits she has barely thought about the numerous details involved, her mother certainly has. Despite the daughter mentioning repeatedly that she wants to "keep things simple," the mother keeps pulling out wedding books, bridal magazines and a sample reception menu.

The other stellar scene takes place when a mother and daughter sit down to watch TV soap operas together. The mother (Amanda Schlueter) points at a TV character and asks her daughter (Melissa Keith) whether the actor is gay. The daughter explains wearily (not for the first time) that because she's an actress, it doesn't mean she can automatically tell if someone is gay. She says the behaviors of her own gay friends are not stereotypical. When she mentions that a mutual friend is gay, the mother refuses to believe it. "He curses like a truck driver," she says, to prove her point. Oy, vey!

Holiday reunions are a favorite theme. In one episode, two college-age sisters (Jenny Kostreva and Rachel Lewandowski) are nervously preparing a "game plan" for Thanksgiving as they drive to their mother's house. They trade gossip about family members. They agree on a list of topics that must be avoided at all costs. They reminisce about horrors of holidays past. Their exchanges are humorously familiar.

If all of the bits were this funny, It's Your Mother!" would be a joy to watch. Unfortunately, too many of the comic vignettes fall flat, and the poignant vignettes don't reach their full potential. Still, "It's Your Mother!" is guaranteed to get audiences nodding in recognition at some of the all-too-familiar family scenes. If you're looking for a show that your mother (or daughter) might enjoy, try this one. Chances are she'll identify with some of the characters seen onstage.

Marion Araugo, Amanda Schlueter, Melissa Keith Jenny Kostreva, Rachel Lewandowski, Lisa Golda, Christine Horgen, Nicole Gorski, etc.
Anne Siegel
Date Reviewed: 
April 2010