A local playwright Suzanne Beal is having a World Premiere run of I Am (Not) My Mother at Maryland Ensemble Theatre. Proceeds go to help The Woman’s Giving Circle. It is a great story of putting community into Community Theatre by spotlighting a local playwright, with a play based on local people, and helping a local cause.
Beal did a lot of research for the project which turned into a very original play. I found the play to be daring – but in a subtle way. Joann Lee created a simple set design with a few decorations and a couple of wooden cubes for the actresses to sit and stand on. Simple works best here since nothing distracts from the cast and the story.
The show features several girls talking about their experiences with their mothers. It is based on of a study featuring more than 80 women, so the cast did not portray any one daughter. At times, some actors switch to play the mother, some even portray the minds of woman that are silent. However, in this case the audience heard exactly what they were thinking.
The cast of Jessica Bowers, Erika Jareckim, Jeanine Collins, Julie Herber, Lynnette Franklin, and Lia Seltzer do a super job of drawing the audience in. It is nice to hear Jessica Bowers play and sing her original songs. Pride beams on her face as she performs. The cast joins in on many of the songs and the harmonies ended up sounding pretty good. Gene Fouché does an excellent job with the sound design. A CD of the original music is available at the theatre.
There were a couple of mess-ups during a few of the talking parts of the play. However, they even added to the real feel of the women talking. Gene Fouché’s directing and Beal’s playwriting create a play that everyone can relate too.
There were some scenes that I thought offered way too much information, but those scenes did provide some good laughs, including humorous scenes about makeup and feminine products. Being a man – it was a little off-putting. The most emotional scenes had a mother talking about conceiving her child, her child growing up, the daughter’s marriage, to the death of her mother, was very powerful and heartwarming, filled with sadness, happiness, laughter and anger.
Running time: Approximately 80 minutes, with no intermission.