Once upon a time, there was a woman named Jude who kicked a pram (a baby carriage).
An empty one, don’t worry, but nonetheless Jude has to complete an anger management program to avoid charges, and Taffety Punk’s US premiere production of Sadie Hasler’s play (following Fringe runs in Edinburgh, London and Oslo) is about her dealing with her life, her choices, and how it culminated in the frustration that resulted in said pramkicking. Her younger sister Susie goes with her to keep her rage in check, and she too has her own story.
Jude (Esther Williamson) is 38, childless/child-free as is Susie (Tonya Beckman) at 31 and has no aspirations toward parenthood, but the window in which biological parenthood is an option is closing, and coincidental or not she’s going through… feelings. She rails against the patriarchal construct of the obligation of motherhood (“Father time, the head honcho of the patriarchy”), while also wondering, “am I free or… wasted?” And after an encounter with yet another entitled, oblivious and rude mum in a coffee shop, it’s the last straw, and out comes the boot.
Ms Hasler channels her characters’ rage into a funny, tight 70 minute two-hander designed to speak to every woman who has ever been patronizingly pitied for their decision to not have children, or been made to feel compelled to justify it.
closes September 29, 2018
Details and tickets
Whether you find this play as “powerfully subversive” as the Punks do may be a function of how personally resonant you find Jude and Susie’s stories. For me, I became a parent on my own schedule on my own terms. Neither my mother nor my kid’s bio-mom had that luxury, so the play spoke to me through the two of them. Also, class dynamics plays into the story almost as much as gender, as Jude and Susie’s working-class background also plays into their animosity against the pampered, privileged young mothers pushing the top-of-the-line prams to the front of the line at the coffee shop.
And one only need glance at today’s headlines to understand how high the stakes are for women, given the current potential lifetime SCOTUS appointee, his opinions on female bodily autonomy, and his alleged actions.
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Director Linda Lombardi keeps the action flowing smoothly and the staging balanced. Kate Fleming’s minimalist set design, some platforms and effective wall art, puts the focus on the two actors. Esther Williamson and Tonya Beckman have a breezy and open chemistry, and bring out all the sisterly history, vulnerability, humor, and pathos in Ms Hadler’s witty and ribald script. Although there was no credited dialect coach (that I saw), Williamson and Beckman sound spot-on. And choreographer Kelly King throws in a touching and life-affirming nod to Dirty Dancing that’s a definite highlight.
I apologize in advance for this: I got a kick out of it, and you will too.
Pramkicker by Sadie Hasler, directed by Linda Lombardi. Cast: Esther Williamson (Jude, etc), Tonya Beckman (Susie, etc). Set/Prop Design: Kate Fleming. Light Design: Chris Curtis. Costume Design: Heather C Jackson. Sound Design: Kenny Neal. Choreography: Kelly King. Fight Design: Lorraine Ressegger-Stone. Assistant Director (and voice of Janet): Claire Schoonover. Stage Manager: Kathryn Dooley. Produced by Taffety Punk Theatre Co. Review by John Geoffrion.
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