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Class Mothers '68

Eric H. Weinberger
The Harold Clurman, Theatre Row, New York
(2003)

This show would go down a storm in Edinburgh. It is a one-woman show that allows Priscilla Lopez to showcase her talents. She was in the original cast of 42nd Street and is currently appearing alongside her namesake, Jennifer (J.Lo) and Ralph Fiennes in the film Maid in Manhattan.

The mothers of a high school graduation class get together to put on a show that their offspring will be proud of - in reality, more likely cringe at. Ms Lopez plays six different mothers of vastly different class and character, switching accents, languages and personas with great agility.

We start with the ultra-snobbish Harriet, whose pride in her son is only surpassed by her need to run the show (and probably the world). Her maid, the Hispanic Nilda, is next up, the mother of a star daughter who is beginning to get caught up in the anti-Vietnam movement. Throughout the play you are reminded of the exciting times, riots everywhere. The late-sixties feel is enhanced by Beowulf Boritt's tremendous revolving screen set and Daniel Lawson's flexible costuming.

Number three mom, Lee Drake, is a drunken, lazy slut but has the latent artistic talent that the others lack, not to mention the youth to wow their husbands (and even sons). Rosemarie and Gretel are insecure in different ways, in the first case because of an arty husband and in the latter due to her background. In 1968, she was still only just over twenty years away from a life in the death camps of Nazi Germany. It is in this character and the last, the bouncing organiser with the broken marriage, that Ms Lopez really shines.

This show lacks a little polish and could do with less dramatic lighting but throughout, its star shows her quality, not least in the final scene where she produces a one-minute vaudeville act that contains all six characters, some of them almost simultaneously.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher