I want to be in America.
Everything Free in America.
I know in writing this review, I will not be in the majority, but all I could think of during Staceyann Chin’s new autobiographical one-woman show MotherStruck! at the Culture Project, was who is paying for that child you so desperately wanted? It is one thing to want a child, but there is more than having a child, than wanting to fulfill your needs. They have needs and it takes money.
Born in Jamaica, Ms. Chin was terrorized by her aunt when she got her first period. Her aunt was insistent that she not become a statistic like her mother, who was young, pregnant with no husband to help support a child. She was dropped off to her aunt’s when her grandmother no longer wanted to care of her or her brother and her narcissistic mother wanted a life. Ms. Chin’s childhood was devoid of love. As she grows up she realizes she is a lesbian. She grows a confidence, but is bullied and sexually assaulted until she leaves Jamaica for America as an illegal. In America she becomes a poet/ storyteller at the Nuyorican Poets Café as she becomes part of Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam. Moving from lover to lover she meets and marries Peter a gay man to become legal. Wanting to have a baby complications happen when Peter dies of cancer, “30 minutes before his 30th birthday as Staceyann morns, “Who dies 30 minutes before they turn 30?”
Still feeling the maternal urge, at 32, she believes she has all the time in the world and comes up with a master plan of “conceiving the radical feminist ninja messiah.” Aimed with a purpose she heads out into the lesbian Brooklyn dating scene. After serial dating, she realizes her master plan has failed, so she decides to become a single mother and then continue to find a partner. Turns out she is not the ideal candidate for this. After spending a lot of money to become pregnant, it turns out she doesn’t have the money to support her child as she loses her home. She returns to Jamaica but that is a bust, considers Germany because they pay for everything, but realizes she loves New York.
Ms. Chin is a talented storyteller, but an hour and forty minutes with an intermission is too much for a one-person show. Hyperkinetic, Ms. Chin uses the theatre like her own playground and you are never sure where she is going to land. Her personal style is just as unique, with her hair shaved into a red flamboyant mohawk, tights. a lose comfortable looking dress and bare feet. Ms. Chin’s intensity is appealing.
Actor turned director Cynthia Nixon does keep the show moving and it is obvious she relates to this material.
It was hard to connect to this show because I just found myself questioning it’s motive.
MotherStruck!: The Culture Project, Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker St. until Jan. 29th.