Written by Alina Mae Wilson
Part of what makes a story enjoyable is it’s relatability . As the viewers are we able to identify with and appreciate the situations presented to us? If the answer is yes, then points can immediately be awarded to the writer of said story. This is the case with the Modjeska Playhouse’s Secrets of A Soccer Mom, starring Shana Jean Martin, Kelly McNamara, and Hailey Tweter. Listening to modern day mothers regale each other with everything from spousal complaints to adventures in soul-searching is so familiar to us that our understanding of the ladies’ predicaments is instantly acquired if not pre-implanted by society. Though much of the drama does comes from a very serious place, there is a decent balance in this play, with some genuinely funny moments.
When three mothers find themselves the participants in a mother-child soccer game, they decide to throw the game in the name of preserving their little cherubs’ self esteem. In the midst of the game’s progress however they find that their introspective conversations have left them longing for some victory. By the end of the show each of them has gained some new perspective.
First off: It’s a simple show, and does not need the elaborate trappings hanging all over the stage, it just needs some greenery and a few benches and we are good to go. The fact that the theater seats are structured similarly to bleachers increases the resemblance to a soccer field all the more. The transformation is quick and effective.
The transformation of the actresses is more or less complete as well. Special mention of the night goes to Shana Jean Martin who plays Lynn in all her maternally-stressed glory. Lines that would probably be more or less cliche become delightfully witty when coming from Martin. The funniest moments stem from the truest examples of parental trials, such as frequent interruptions from the children regardless of the conversational depth. This brings us to an essential problem with the show–the story has realistic elements in it (the general concerns of the mothers can be considered authentic troubles with parenting and marriage) but those realistic problems become troublesome when the speeches and conversations drag on and on without satisfactory resolution. Martin manages to make her character likable fun but that does not change the fact that her character’s story arc is, similar to her co-stars, unsatisfactory. This has something to do with their strange moral motivations–they are mostly spurred to play aggressively from the taunts of their children’s teammates. This may or may not happen in real life, but there is something weird about our heroes fighting to win back their dignity from eight-year olds that aren’t theirs.
This show has a serious issue with transitions. The frequent and overdrawn black-outs remind one of nothing so much as a poorly edited film, while the mothers alternate between being charming and exasperating (the ending would indicate that this is not intentional, we are supposed to be happy for these people). This play might best serve as a conversation piece, especially for parents who are certain to get the jokes.
Runs through June 6 2015