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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boulevard Theatre’s ‘It’s Your Mother’ Lets Daughters Vent

Theater Review

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Boulevard Theatre closes its 24th season by exploring relationships between mothers and daughters—the never-ending journey to communicate and understand one another—in It’s Your Mother! Written by Patricia Durante and Betsy Tuxill, the 84-minute play (with no intermission) is a series of 10 sketches and vignettes that focus on the typical trials and tribulations of adult daughters whose mothers still treat them like little children.

The mothers dote on, criticize, patronize and, of course, know better than their adult daughters. The daughters in turn vent their frustration and anger on topics like the onset of old age, dealing with Thanksgiving holidays and planning a wedding. The 15-member cast—14 women, one man—keeps it moving under the direction of Mark Bucher. But one-dimensional writing tends to reduce the concept of “mother” to a perpetual nag, know-it-all, worrywart, martyr, etc.—in general, moms we can recognize and laugh at, but really wouldn’t want to tuck us in at night.

There are, however, some funny and touching moments. On the humorous side, Boulevard veteran Christine Horgen does a comic, all-too-real turn in “Mother of the Bride,” turning her daughter’s simple plans into a mega-matrimonial gala. Actresses Melissa Keith and Amanda Schlueter are a delight to watch in “Is He the Man?” as the mom (Schlueter) keeps asking—and annoying—her theater major daughter (Keith) about gay male stereotypes. Both actresses shine in the evening’s high point, “Personal Speeches,” as the teacher (Schlueter) asks students to read aloud their essays about their mothers. Joined by Michael Tyburski and Rachel Lewandowski in the skit’s funnier moments, Keith’s down-to-earth, bittersweet monologue about losing her mother at a young, impressionable age touches the child in all of us—a good reminder that the next time the phone rings and the voice on the other end says, “It’s your mother,” it’d be worth the time to listen and appreciate.

It’s Your Mother! runs through May 9 at Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theater.

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