Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009

Boulevard Theatre’s Soccer Moms

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The set lays out just enough visual imagery for suggesting a park—a wire wastebasket, a few steps and some glossy photo placards of sky, a tree and a park bench.  After a brief curtain speech by Boulevard Theatre Artistic Director Mark Bucher, the cast of three files out for the beginning of Secrets of a Soccer Mom. The light contemporary comedy by Kathleen Clark, which runs 90 minutes with no intermission, is a fun trip to a cozy theatre on South KK.

The script’s original prologue features three mothers of varying ages doing menial chores with increasingly greater flair until they are passionately dancing in a reverie that is cut short by shouts of “mom!” It’s a clever bit that has been conscientiously cut from the production.  Here we are promptly introduced to the three mothers who have come to attend their children’s soccer game. We are launched directly into the plot that forms between the there of them.

Alison is a young mother in her twenties with a busy husband named Ron, a son playing soccer and a young daughter asleep in the car. Alison is played by Marion Araujo: a tall, lean actress who looks physically perfect for the role of a young, competitive athletic woman. Hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, she has an intensity about her in the role that gradually unwinds around the edges as the character opens-up to the other two mothers. The deeper edges of the character’s inner emotional personality might not have been perfectly seamless opening night, but Araujo, who has been in a couple of other Boulevard productions, shows a captivating potential here.

Lynn is over thirty, with a husband named Lenny, a son and twin daughters. Lynn is played by Brooke Wegner in her debut at the Boulevard. Lynn, who is heavily involved in her children’s school activities, lounges near the game with a PTA binder doing work during the game. Lynn has the sense of humor of a woman who does a great deal of work that she is fairly certain few people appreciate. Wegner does a remarkable job of bringing the reality of this kind of sense of humor to the stage. Her timing may not have been perfectly flawless opening night, but Wegner has a sparkling sense of comic delivery that radiates from the tiny stage of the Boulevard remarkably well.   

Nancy is over forty with a husband names Kevin, a son and a daughter. She’s played by Kathleen Williams. Nancy is something of a reformed introvert who connects-up with others through a somewhat aggressive sense of humor. Williams carries with her something of a distance from the immediate world that renders a character who has reached forty years of age and is still trying to find her identity.  All three characters are lost in a sense, but her sense of detachment may be great than the other two and as a result, she’s got some of the best comic lines in the play. Opening night, Williams didn’t always deliver on the comic potential of those lines, but she had an effortless hold on the inherent charm in the character’s personality that made the smaller flaws in her performance seem insignificant.

Individually, all three actresses had an excellent sense of the play, but there was a barely perceptible distance between the three of them that kept the overall conversation from feeling completely cohesive. In all likelihood, this was just the effect of opening night, but it might have something to do with the cast spending more time rehearsing separately than they have as a group. Whether or not this is actually the case, it’s a minor concern in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable 90 minute show.



The Boulevard Theatre’s production of Secrets of A Soccer Mom runs through March 29th.

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