Mamaphobia | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Mamaphobia, at the Old Town School of Folk Music. A recent Salon article noted the explosion of navel-gazing parenting memoirs ("momoirs") by Gen-X writers, from Ariel Gore in her Hip Mama zine to former Neo-Futurist Ayun Halliday in her book The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tales From the Trenches. Unfortunately stay-at-home mother of two Peggy Maher Ward hasn't done as well as some of her peers at turning her personal tales into a compelling narrative in her first one-woman show, directed by Kimmie Warner.

Maher Ward is undeniably an engaging performer--though she had a shaky moment or two with her lines on opening night. And there are some gentle chuckles to be had as she recounts her travails as a new parent. Her segment on meeting a gruff lactation consultant reminded me of Margaret Cho's infamous "My name is Gwen and I am here to wash your vagina" story from I'm the One That I Want. But the piece is mostly a catalog of mundane annoyances interspersed with gushy wonderment at how the little ones grow.

The peripheral characters Maher Ward plays--her loving but clueless husband, her prone-to-panic mother--don't come across as much more than cartoons. And guitarist-vocalist Laura Doherty's musical interludes not only slow the story down but provide a sentimental underpinning to a show that's already more overtly sentimental than it should be.

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