Looking for Lilith
Devising and Production Direction by Jennifer Thalman Kepler
Review by Rachel White
Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Rachel White. All rights reserved.
I’m not a mother myself, but I have known many mothers, have many friends that are becoming them, I have my own mother, and I have my own curiosity about motherhood. Becoming a mother is a textured, nuanced thing it would seem – humorous, physical, medical, spiritual for some, romantic, and quirky for others. Becoming Mothers, Looking for Lilith’s devised theater piece on the process of motherhood, is trying to express those unique experiences, and in many instances it succeeds. The play falters, however, in pulling these voices together to make a clear thematic point and story.
The first act of Becoming Mothers is a mosaic of women’s voices speaking on the joys and woes of having a baby, from dealing with the news of pregnancy to telling your partner, etc. These voices come from interviews with real women. The style is fun and flashy; and the performers, all women of course, are confident and for the most part grab your attention. There is a great deal of movement and miming, which gives the play an abstract quality that works quite well and helps to demonstrate the universality of the themes. A woman sits on a toilet with a take-home pregnancy test, and when she finds out it's blue, she downs the rest of her beer. The fact that she had a beer at ready for this moment was interesting to me. In another instance, a Japanese mother in an American hospital is unable to understand what the doctors are saying to her. Another woman, devastated when she finds out that she is pregnant with twins, cries into the elevator and all the way home. Many of these stories were very intriguing; but as the voices piled on, I began to feel a little lost. I wanted to know about these individual women to follow their different stories on a deeper level.
Act II deals with labor and birth and the actual experience of being a mother once the baby is born. The second act seemed to have a little more focus, maybe because fewer characters were introduced and the actual event of labor is inherently dramatic. There is also in this act a beautiful story about a mother who adopts a seven-year-old girl from another country and wakes to find the girl touching her and calling her mother. I wanted to know more about her.
Part of the bombarding nature of the piece is due to the subject matter itself. The play is getting at something about the culture of modern motherhood that I don’t think the authors quite understand or know how to deal with. Modern motherhood with its enormous responsibilities, its absolutely ridiculous expectations, its obsession with finding the right diaper, must be an extremely overwhelming thing to experience. The question becomes, Where are all these pressures coming from and what do they mean for women? Looking for Lilith is a women’s theater company, and I think it could go further in getting at these issues, at turning them over, and opening them up. The play feels a little too self-assured right now, a little indulgent; but the issues it brings up are extremely important and worthy of exploration.
May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 7:30PM
May 12, 18 2:00 PM
Looking for Lilith Theater Company
at the Victor Jory Theatre
Actors Theatre of Louisville
316 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202