With a title like How to Be a Good Mom… When You’ve Got a Schizophrenic Mother for a Role Model, Pamela Meek’s storytelling piece can seem intimidating at first. But spend 45 minutes with this thoughtful and funny woman and you’ll get to see a performance that really thrives in a Fringe setting. It’s an authentic and honest living memoir of a fascinating life, as well as an informed investigation into the legacy a mother passes on to her daughter.
Meek begins with a moment of levity. Upon reaching the stage, she asks the audience if they’re ready to get depressed. Her story is sad at times, but never in the “oh my God, get me out of here” kind of way. The storytelling is taut and affecting; it’s evident from the very beginning that Meek is completely in control of her craft.
We begin with memories of her childhood in Fort Lauderdale. Dad gets a better job. The family trailer becomes a house. Brother Jerry plays games with his younger sister. Along the way we catch repeated glimpses of erratic behavior from Meek’s mother. Erraticism turns to abuse. The family buckles. Separation. Divorce. The family crumbles.
Meek makes it to college on her own dime and eventually earns a Ph.D in psychology. Despite her success, the specter of her mother’s paranoid schizophrenia follows her throughout adulthood. It’s not until she marries and seeks to have her own child that Meek is able to finally shed her denial.
As a licensed psychologist in Montgomery County, Meek is able to weave educated expertise into her narrative. It’s an effective approach that might very well teach you a thing or two about psychology. It also leads to several tender and touching moments in which Meek re-explores her childhood armed with the tools of her trade. Her revelations are imbued with universal truths that are both keenly reached and easy to relate to. The title of her show poses a challenging question for Meek. With this performance, she passes with flying colors.
Running Time: 45 minutes.
How to Be a Good Mom… When You’ve got a Schizophrenic Mother for a Role Model plays through July 25, 2015 at The Argonaut -1433 H Street NE, in Washington, DC. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.
Read the preview article on DCMetroTheaterArts.