If you want to give the mom in your life—the one who gave birth to you, or the one who gave birth to your kids— the perfect early Mother’s Day gift, take her to see AtticRep’s Secrets of a Soccer Mom. Then take her out for drinks, and ask, “Is there anything you want to talk about?”
Characters such as mother-of-the-year Lynn, lonely Alison, and restless Nancy, are archetypes of the mothers one might really meet at PTA meetings, soccer fields, or playgrounds. They have other lives that they’ve left behind, but haven’t been able to shake the lingering desires. They feel conflicted about the sacrifices they’ve made for their children. They possess varying levels of confidence in the choices they’ve made. If this sounds like a conversation you’ve heard before, consider that it might be due to the universal nature of this struggle.
What begins as a snapshot of the mother’s role quickly expands to a discussion on the women who have become wives and mothers.
The opening montage shows three moms as they get ready for a mother-son soccer game, and gives the audience a preview of the emotional ride in store.
Don’t expect anything jarring. This is a comedy. It doesn’t get into addiction, abuse, or those kinds of bleak realities.The play provides glimpses into the dimensionality of women who happen to bear the flattening cultural label “soccer mom.” The play focuses on the complexities hidden behind the people that our culture assumes are less complex. It does so with twists and turns that are never overly dramatic, but instead reflect the common dilemmas of motherhood.
It’s not a vast range, but it is a realistic range.
The dialogue of Clark’s script is uneven at times, but the actors’ comedic timing– especially that of Georgette Lockwood, who plays Lynn– saves it. It ranges from cute banter and witty one-liners to honest conversations, or rather, conversation starters.
Probably the most realistic part of the entire play is the way that the moms’ conversations are constantly interrupted by the antics of their children. Just as a conversation reaches a crucial moment some off-stage eight-year-old falls out of a tree or gets his head stuck in the goal net. That’s real life, folks.
Not being a soccer mom myself (mom, yes, soccer, not yet), I had my doubts that the confrontational, transparent moments needed to drive the story forward could really happen in the bleachers.
However, I saw the show with a friend who has real-life soccer mom experience. Moms whose kids play soccer together spend at least 90 minutes per week trapped in the stands together, and she confirmed that these moments do come up. S***, as they say, does get real.
With all the interruptions, the play’s strength is mostly in its hints, not exhaustive explorations into the psyche of motherhood. Many of the surprised bursts of laughter in the audience came from men, while women giggled and nodded in affirmation.
The AtticRep motto, “theater worth talking about,” could not be more fitting for Soccer Mom. The women on stage raised more questions than they answered. Would they regret taking time away from their kids to pursue their own interests? How do they broach the topics of missing sexual attention, or finding themselves seeking that attention in all the wrong places? Have they lost a part of themselves they can never regain? Do they like who they are as mothers? How will their grown children evaluate them as moms just as they wrestle through their own childhood? All these questions deserve some follow-up reflection in a kids-free environment, accompanied by a glass of wine or a shot of something stronger. (Helpful hint: Ocho is right around the corner from the Tobin Center, where the play is showing.)
A simple set and production allows the actors to settle into the space. They do a good job of conveying the inner turmoil that can build when the common anxieties of motherhood are left in isolation. The isolation of motherhood is a big theme in the show. It demonstrates the need for supportive spouses and communities.
In their woes, the three characters in the show read firmly middle class, but without coming off as privileged or whiny. Director Marisela Barrera’s slightly more Latina version of the Kathleen Clark script brings added flavor to what could have been a very white experience.
Having never been anything but white and middle class myself, I trust Barrera’s assessment that the emotional issues of motherhood transcend demographics on some level, and that we are united by the need for affirmation, support, and, quite frankly, good sex.
The show runs April 7- 17 in the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin Center for the Perfoming Arts. For showtimes or tickets, click here.
Top Image: Maggie Tonra, Anna De Luna, and Gerogette Lockwood in Secrets of a Soccer Mom. Photo by Siggi Ragnar.