Tales of Modern Motherhood: This Sh*t Just Got Real
Reviewed by Dana Martin
Through February 10th
Pam Levin didn’t want to be a mother. She entered motherhood practically kicking and screaming. Traditionally, the order is: dating, marriage, babies, and Levin begrudgingly ticked every box. Her play at the Whitefire Theatre, Tales of Modern Motherhood: This Sh*t Just Got Real, is a witty and humorous story, albeit unwittingly steeped in tradition.
The play, which she wrote and performs, is more about Levin’s journey to motherhood and less about motherhood itself. She loves her children, that much is clear. Nonetheless, the story is about how she wanted to maintain her independence. Her family thought otherwise.
Levin and her husband have “the kids” conversation shortly after they’re engaged. He wants them. She doesn’t. Big problem. Rather than communicate her true feelings, she postpones procreation for 5 years, which passes by in a flash as Levin lives her best years. Shortly thereafter, and much to her dismay, she winds up pregnant. It’s an all-too-familiar tale and not at all modern.
The direction by Mark Hatfield is one dimensional. Transitions are punctuated by songs that Levin lip-synchs, which gets awkward. Lighting, also by Hatfield, is satisfactory, but the play otherwise feels technically under-rehearsed. Large projections which aid some of the play’s most interesting moments are not fully utilized.
Levin is certainly a likable person, charming and earnest. Her most engaging moments happen when she addresses the audience directly. It’s difficult to tell why she’s relating this particular story, however; there’s nothing fresh or new about her narrative. Ultimately, she assumes a role she doesn’t particularly want. She’s surprised that she’s good at it and enjoys it — which is great, but not particularly modern or stage worthy.
Tales of Modern Motherhood speaks to the variety of pressures surrounding motherhood, and for those of us who have chosen not to become parents, it’s a cautionary tale indeed.
Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sat., 8 p.m.; through February 10th. (212) 239-6200 or talesofmodernmotherhood.com. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission