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Daughters Have Their Say... and Moms Too
Dear Mom, a new play
Directed by Jay Falzone
Theater for the New City
155 First Ave.
July 10 thru July 13, 2014
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons July 10, 2014
Who doesn't love their mothers? Who doesn't hate them? Who doesn't bear grudges buried so deeply we are not even aware they exits? All these feelings - and many more - are explored in Jay Falzone and Nancy Holson's Dear Mom, a new play.
The play, based on actual letter written by daughters to their mothers, has been several years in the making. During that time, the authors reached out to a wide network of women, asking them to submit letters. The women who responded were aged 18 to 88. According to the authors, their letters were "poignant, hostile, angry and wistful." All this is recorded in their book, Dear Mom, It's about Time I Told You, and reflected in this very moving and insightful play, which Falzone also directs.
Dear Mom exists on two level. The narrative is about Linda (Katherine Barron) a middle-aged woman who is holding vigil at the bedside of her dying mother, Joan (Frances McGarry). Although Joan is in a coma, she frequently leaves her bed in flashbacks that date back to Linda's early childhood. Projections at the back of the stage give the audience the correct moment on the timeline.
Linda is a loving, grateful child; a resentful adolescent, a hesitant bride, an angry adult. Joan is a caring, but all too human mother. Secrets are revealed. Confrontations are played out. Resolution is uneasily achieved.
At the same time, Linda is reading a book of letters daughters have written to their mothers, a book her best friend (Kelsey Lidsky) has left her as consolation and advice. As Linda somewhat resentlfully reads these letters Lidsky plays of all these daughters.
There are abused daughters, gay daughters, daughters of alcoholics, daughters who have always been loved and nurtured. Sometimes they have learned to live with the legacy of their parents. Sometimes they are still fighting it. Always it is a large part of who they have become.
Linda has a brother who is not on good terms with their mother. He sends flowers but does not pay a visit. She has a sister, a rebel who is also pretty much out of the picture but makes one appearance, via telephone, played by Lidsky. Linda also speaks by phone to her husband and her son, who is in college. These missing people are all well-rounded characters. In fact, it might have been a good idea to let us actually see more of them.
With all of these scenarios, it's hard to imagine any female sitting in the audience who will not see at least some traces of her own mother. It's also unlikely these women will not find tears come to their eyes several times throughout the play, tears of sorrow and laughter. Because, yes, there are moments in Dear Mom that are intensely funny.
Dear Mom could have been a bit shorter. After a while one gets the feeling we are hearing different versions of the same story. But Barron, McGarry and Lidsky are so evidently sincerely attached to this work and so in command of their characters; and the writing is so on target, most people will forgive some of the excess.
Dear Mom is not for women only. It's for anyone who has ever had a mother, knows a mother, or is or will be a mother.
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