Review Roundup: Critics Weigh in on MOTHERS
Playwrights Realm's world premiere production of Anna Moench's Mothers opens last night, September 25, at The Duke on 42nd Street in New 42nd Street Studios (229 West 42nd Street). Directed by Vampire Cowboys Co-Artistic Director Robert Ross Parker, and running through October 12, Moench's Mothers begins as a satirical comedy of manners, then daringly explodes the form, examining what happens when a group of Mothers (plus a nanny and a father) are thrown into circumstances far beyond their control.
The cast of Mothers includes Maechi Aharanwa (Ariana), Jasmine Batchelor (Vick), Satomi Blair (Meg), Tina Chilip (Gladys), and Max Gordon Moore(Ty). The creative team includes, Wilson Chin (Scenic Design), Porsche McGovern (Lighting Design), Karen Perry (Costume Design), Shane Rettig (Sound Design), Samantha Shoffner (Props Design), Teniece Divya Johnson (Fight Director & Intimacy Coordinator), and Christine M. Daly (Production Stage Manager).
Mothers is set in a Mommy & Me group rife with upper-middle-class malaise. Here, despite relative privilege, the social and biological pressures of parenting are nonetheless wholly consuming, and even small talk becomes a charged, fraught competition: whoever's the most devoted to her family, has the best-behaved child, and the most satisfied husband wins. But beyond the mild-mannered jabs deployed within this comfortably suffocating bubble, the world seems to be on the brink of far less subtle violence. As the chaos outside encroaches on the group's turf, passive aggression falls by the wayside, and each mom will have to decide just how much she loves her child.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Maya Phillips, The New York Times: Fairly action-less, except for some light social tension - disagreements about breastfeeding, vaccination and disciplining - it's also raucously funny. Robert Ross Parker's direction juices up the passive-aggressive snark. Ms. Aharanwa is a laugh and a half, beaming and preening as her arched eyebrows and fluttering eyelashes betray her thinly veiled judgments.
Sara Holdren, Vulture: That sickening feeling Moench is hoping for? I didn't feel it. I got the idea that probably I should, but something about the play's progression left me cold. Mothers wants to dig into a lot of things - race, gender, class, primal instinct, our fears of the world's ever-increasing litany of terrors, how all of these things affect what it means to be a parent, especially a mom - but its observations, even its twists, often feel more predictable than revelatory. Meanwhile, Robert Ross Parker's very clean production creates a sense of disconnect from the story's descent into gritty, bloody chaos.
Photo Credit: Daniel J Vasquez