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Actors’ Summit’s MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD–delightful, thought provoking

Roy Berko

Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle

The great fear of realizing that MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD is a series of vignettes which look at varying phases of motherhood, is that it will turn out to be a Hallmark sentimental mindless experience.  Fear not.  The eighteen authors of the vignettes avoid making the experience sappy and purely entertaining.  Instead, there is a balance of humor, pathos, and social commentary.

Four actors, play multiple roles, examining life in a full circuit birth to rebirth process, starting with the delivery experience of three women (“Fast Births”—Michele Lowe), and end with the birth experience (“My Baby”—Annie Weisman).  Yes, life is a circular process.  In between, we view sleep deprivation (“Next to the Crib”—Brooke Berman), play dates “New Motherhood”—Lisa Loomer), the first day of school (“First Day Fugue”—Michele Lowe), child as transgendered being (“Queen Esther”—Michele Lowe), international adoption (“Baby Bird”—Theresa Rebeck), gay parenthood (“If We’re Using a Surrogate, How Come I’m the One with Morning Sickness”—Marco Pennette), sex education (“Sextalk Fugue”—Michele Lowe), the plight of both the daughter’s first period and being an immigrant mother (“Nooha’s List”—Lameece Issaq), step-motherhood  (“My Almost Family”—Luanne Rice), autism (“Michael’s Date”—Michele Lowe), graduation from high school (“Graduation Day Fuge”—Michele Lowe), empty nest syndrome (“Threesome”—Leslie Ayvazian), going off to war (“Stars and Stripes”—Jessica Goldberg), holidays (‘Thanksgiving Fugue”—Michele Lowe), the onset of depression and dementia (“Elizabeth”—David Cale); and generational differences (“Report on Motherhood”—Beth Henley).

Sounds like a lot in a short 90-minute period of time, but under Constance Thackaberry’s insightful directing, the time moves quickly, the characterizations are well etched, there is a nice texturing of meaning, and comedy and pathos are well developed.

The cast are all excellent, with Paula Kline-Messner shining.  Her “Queen Esther,” and “Stars and Stripes” are show highlights, as is Gabriel Riazi’s “If We’re Using a Surrogate, How Come I’m the one with Morning Sickness.”  Other highlights are Messner and Sarah Grewitt’s “Report on Motherhood.“  Shani Ferry is consistent in her various roles.

The set, a series of platforms, backed up by a wall of bicycles, strollers, stuffed animals, wagons, and baby toys is a perfect visual image for the goings on.

Capsule judgement: MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD is a delightful, thought provoking evening of theatre that should be positively perceived by all audience members.  

For tickets to, which runs through, call 330-374-7568 or go to