Mom's the Word | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Mom's the Word

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Mom's the Word, at the Royal George Theatre Center. Near the end of this evening of good-natured complaining, Jacqueline Williams calls motherhood a foreign country and urges herself not to be "like one of those tourists in exotic places, insisting on their Coca-Cola." Instead of missing her previous life, she's going to immerse herself in child rearing until the journey ends. It's a lovely observation that also happens to mark the limits of Mom's the Word: like slides from someone else's vacation, the show will interest you only if it's someplace you've been. No matter how well-composed the shots, the subject palls.

Not for want of trying, though. For mothers, the show confirms their struggles and their value ("I am my family's home"); for nonmothers, it reinforces the decision to opt out ("How much more do I have to give up?"). If it explored such paradoxes, especially for cerebral women thrust into an inescapably bodily world, Mom's the Word might be really powerful. But it wouldn't be a surefire hit.

Half a dozen exceptional actresses--Williams, Rengin Altay, Megan Moore Burns, Monica Mary McCarthy, Stephanie Shaw, and Nancy Voigts--take well-worn material about excretions, sleep deprivation, and the loss of adult company and make it seem fresh. There are some wonderful bits, including Altay's determined consumption of a banana while telling her husband "I feel good if you feel good" and McCarthy's Harlequin-romance account of Luigi, a fantasy man who plays with children and gives foot rubs.

--Kelly Kleiman

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