Conversations of My Mothers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Conversations of My Mothers

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Whether about emigrating alone to America with an illegitimate child in 1890, crusading for the unions in 1910, single-handedly raising a family and running a farm in 1940, breaking free of housewifely dependency in 1960, or Having It All in 1990, the stories of the five generations of women in Conversations of My Mothers resonate with warmth, humor, and ironic truth. Though none of the women's adventures or experiences is particularly exceptional, the five charming and talented actresses in this Theatre du Jour production--all onstage for the duration of the play--make them ring true. As the different generations interact with one another and with other characters (both seen and unseen) in their own time periods, the focus shifts from one actress or group of actresses to another. This staging wouldn't work with all actors, but the cast here, who portray not only the five women but also several auxiliary characters, take and relinquish the focus with ease and keep each character distinct. The move from the tiny Heartland Studio to the Theatre Building serves Theatre du Jour well: the larger stage and the addition of spotlights make it easier to keep the individual scenes physically separated, which makes it easier to keep straight the time periods in which they occur. And whether or not we see our mothers or daughters among the characters onstage, it's easy to rejoice in their triumphs and chuckle knowingly at their wisdom. Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 327-5252. Through September 19: Thursdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 and 8 PM; Sundays, 3 and 7 PM. $15-$20.

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