Mother, directed by Diana Castle, is written and performed by Mary-Beth Manning, who voices her mother with an off-putting New York accent. The remarkable Mary-Beth performs her 90-minute one-woman show without the aid of props, exists, video screen, off stage, or even a glass of water. Adorable to look at with trim body, short blond hair and fetching eyes, she holds her audience with sheer confidence, energy and enthusiasm.
A skilled performer, she runs the emotional gamut, from age five when she’s convinced her mother is trying to kill her with trainted food in her lunch bag to her difficult adult year, while coping with her mother’s breast cancer. As a child Mary-Beth thinks of her mother as half nice and half nasty. The nasty side is exhibited in frequent outbursts caused by an unsatisfactory relationship with her Irish husband. Her mother is fixated on Italy and an Italian husband for Mary-Beth. She is convincing as her father, too. As a teenager, she and her mother enjoyed The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews, and come full circle years later with her mother in Los Angeles when they see Julie Andrews dining in the same restaurant.
Mary-Beth, who is close to her mother, needs to talk to her every day, and to tell her everything, gets quite emotional when she faces the truth that her mother is actually dying. A perceptive moment is when she wants the death to be over with, so she can get on with the mourning.
Mother is at the Studio at the Elephant Theatre, 1078 Lillian Way, Hollywood. Performances: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., ending June 12. No shows June 4-5. Tickets: $15. Seating is limited. For reservations and/or information call (323) 960-7714.