The Mother of Them All
Freedom Repertory Theatre at Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St., through July 3, 215-978-8497
"There oughta be a law," complains Spermegga, a surprisingly eloquent two-week-old baby, to the judge of a juvenile court. The only compensation for the ordeal of being dragged from the security of the womb, the baby argues, is the guarantee of unconditional love from both parents.
This is the first of the two lessons of Spermegga, conceived (a loaded word, in this case) and written by Clarice Taylor, who plays both the judge and the child through various stages of her life from the womb through young adulthood as well as Spermeggas grandmother, her mother Eggna, her father Sperman and a handful of other characters.
Again and again the feisty grandmother reminds the young Spermegga that her parents love her unconditionally. And Spermegga receives this love, before our eyes, again and again, in a series of adorable vignettes: when she gets her first period, when she goes out on her first date, when shes taught about sex by her grandmother, and when her father appears in time for the grandmothers funeral and delivers the unconditional love that had been promised.
Its not until the second half of the play that she and we learn the plays second lesson: that however much they love you, men the contributors of the sperm just cant be trusted.
What makes all this palatable is the almost-ferocious charm of Taylor in all of her many personae. She is not just because of the number of roles she plays, but by virtue of sheer personality a walking matriarchy. And in every character she plays, she shows us, with her disarming smile, that she wont take no guff, and that she wont take any prisoners. Walter Dallas directs or should I say unleashes.