Through February 24|
THE YEAR MY MOTHER CAME BACK on-line/Jewish Repertory Theatre
There’s nothing like family dynamics to give theatrical opportunities, something the Greeks realized and used in their stage looks at families and violent murder.
It can be entire families, siblings, husband and wife, partner and partner and mother and daughter.
Ah, yes. That.
Alice Eve Cohen’s “The Year My Mother Came Back” is mother and daughter, complicated by the fact Mom has been dead for 31 years.
They didn’t get along well, during those years of adolescence and early adulthood.
Now, there are troubled marriages and, most importantly, the breast cancer which killed Mom in the days when treatment meant radical mastectomies.
Alice (Jenn Stafford) has had a lumpectomy and weeks of radiation involving a constantly changing group of supportive women in the waiting room.
Mom Louise (Tina Rausa) pops into existence in Alice’s home to be supportive, managerial and reminisce about problems in her marriage, that her daughter was only vaguely aware of with her own teen angst.
Lots of angst.
In Cohen’s play, Mom isn’t one of those dramatic ghosts who only appears to a character.
She’s real enough to go for dinner or a drink with Alice in a favorite Indian restaurant in Manhattan.
Basically, Louise is a supportive shoulder with Alice for the hard parts of life and the difficult years of children.
At the same time, they are very different.
Louise and her husband moved their daughters to an anti-Semitic community in what is apparently Westchester County for the better schools while Alice and her husband set up their home in New York City in a different time and age.
During these M&D talks, family difficulties on both sides spill out, sailing instead of family, spousal cheating and just life.
Because of COVID, director Josie DiVicenzo has to deal with complicated stage dynamics since both performers are on the same stage at the same time and there are those social distancing needs.
She handles it well, with some good video camera work to make the separation less obvious.
One thing stage companies have learned from working with on-line shows is dealing with the technical needs and here the audio from mikes on the two performers, instead of mikes hanging above the stage, really make Cohen’s lines much more conversational than trying to work beneath a suspended mike.
One thing to remember while watching a show about mothers and daughters is that there are dynamics for fathers and sons and they are very similar and very different.
“The Year My Mother Came Back” is very much worth sitting back with your laptop in your lap and watching a playwright create a world of two generations of one family, using some strong performances from Rausa and Stafford and effective direction from DiVincenzo in difficult circumstances.
Since this was a late replacement for an originally scheduled show, both performers are reading from their scripts.
Even on a screen and with that, there is an attraction to live (on tape) theater, with "The Year My Mother Came Back."
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