SECRETS OF A SOCCER MOMby Kathleen Clark
Director - Robin Armstrong
Costume Designer - Robin Armstrong
Lighting Designer - John Leach
Sound Designer - David H.M. Lambert
Stage Manager - Karima Abdulla
Set Designer - Clare Floyd DeVries
Props Master - Brad Jackson
Nancy - Angela D. Allen
Alison - D'Lytha Myers
Lynn - Heidi Wermuth
Reviewed Performance: 1/28/2012
Reviewed by Laurie Lynn Lindemeier, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
This 90-minute play opens Circle Theatre's thirty-first season. Even if you aren't female or a mother, there's a good chance that you've observed one struggling to get her children to a soccer game on a Saturday morning, either in the grocery store buying halftime snacks, or perhaps screaming in the driveway across the street, "What do you mean you don't know where your soccer shoes are?"
Director Robin Armstrong coached the female acting troupe to create an attention-grabbing opening scene. "Working in a Coal Mine" droned as three moms marched onto the stage with unbendable vintage Barbie doll-like legs and staring Stepford-wife eyes. Their backs were stiff but their enthusiasm drooped as they contemplated playing against their eight-year olds in the annual mother-child game.
Throw the game or fight to the death? Playwright Kathleen Clark depicted the mothers' psychological battles well. Some scenes dragged on a bit, but in general, the talented troupe saved them with quirky interpretation and good comedic timing.
This comedy tells a soccer saga by delving into three mothers' psychological conflicts and marital struggles with solemnity but also plenty of corny sitcom-like humor. Circle Theatre made a wise choice in this play which premi?red in New York four years ago. The growing popularity of soccer in Texas for the past twenty years assures that many audience members are part of the soccer fanatic generation or have at least been exposed to it.
But a surprise awaits attendees - a close-up examination of the three lady's lives not only as sports enthusiasts, but mothers who struggle with nagging questions: Did I marry too young? Why did I leave my modeling career behind? Why do I exhaust myself to be the perfect PTA volunteer?
Predictable moments occur - a mother yells at her son to stop playing with butterflies or runs to care for a child who falls from a tree, but unexpected true-blue moments also happen. Quick flipping between funny and somber moments kept the play moving but at times was a bit disjointed. However, the comedic timing of the actresses repeatedly rescued those scenes like a devoted goalie that relentlessly dives in for the save no matter what.
Angela Allen as Nancy, the former model, holds onto her past by being on the other side of the camera taking photos on films she never develops. This is a telling metaphor of a life existing on film but not in reality. Allen is a former Best Supporting Actress Column Award winner. Her beach walk description contained more metaphors to her life. She almost fell climbing rocks, but persevered and discovered a nudist beach with people enjoying an uninhibited life. Allen's soulful acting carried this scene that would have otherwise dragged.
The character Alison, brilliantly played by D'Lytha Myers, is the buoyant beautiful blonde who cartwheels across the stage in a pink sweat suit, but her heart flip-flops when her husband chews her out from across the field in front of everyone. Alison longs to confess her marital affairs to her fellow soccer moms but wonders if she can trust their vulture-like interest to hear the details about her morning jogs with the tight black shirt referee.
Heidi Wermuth plays the uber-organized mother Lynn, the volunteering queen, who reveals the number of times she has sex in a week with her husband, using the conservative code of a stilted hand gesture to represent the "act." Wermuth's past roles in Shakespeare shadowed through in her straight posture and aloof enthusiasm. However, as a perfect PTA mom who guards her emotions, this reserve worked for her character.
The theatrical symbol of two Greek masks, one comic and one tragic, perfectly represents this little show about three women's lives riddled with dichotomies. One minute a husband stabs his wife's heart by spearing cruel words across the field, and the next minute the moms' high-five in ecstasy at a win. The dramatic diversity made the hour and a half fly by.
The scenery of large spray-painted blue leaves against a black background left me cold, as soccer fields don't have trees on them. A hint of a silver metal bleacher or artificial grass would have been effective. However, if Set Designer Clare Floyd DeVries was working towards an avant-garde minimalist effect, it was certainly achieved.
Props were handled well by Brad Jackson although I wondered how Nancy could openly drink Seagrams on a soccer field when alcohol is always strictly prohibited at children's soccer games. Whether this action was dictated by the script or not, I felt Lynn turning her back to the field to sneak a quick sip much more plausible and appropriate.
This show closes February 25th at the Circle Theatre in downtown Fort Worth's Sundance Square. In keeping with the company's mission, this innovative comedy has seldom been seen. Don't miss your chance for a sentimental but silly glimpse into the lives of three soccer moms.
Circle Theatre, 230 W. Fourth St., Ft. Worth, TX 76102
The play runs through February 25th
Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00pm
& 8:00 pm.
Ticket prices are $10-$30. Student/senior discounts available.
For information and tickets, call 817.877.3040 or go to www.circletheatre.com.