The World Premiere of You, My Mother opened this week at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 East 4th Street). Produced by the Obie Award-winning performance group Two-Headed Calf, this limited engagement is running now through February 20th. Created by composer Brendan Connelly and playwright Karinne Keithley Syers along with Obie Award-winning composer Rick Burkhardt and playwright Kristen Kosmas, You, My Mother is an opera project in two parts. The production is directed by Brooke O'Harra, with music performed by Yarn/Wire + Strings.
You, My Mother is a dissection of the ever-evolving relationship between a mother and her child. A simple idea on paper, but put into the hands of Two-Headed Calf, it is a pretty evocative, almost Greek, tragedy. Think about it. We are at odds with the source of our creation from the first day of our existence. By the time we have evolved to appreciate our mother, she's gone.
The creative team for You, My Mother is absolutely superb, especially the scenic and light design of Chris Kuhl and Justin Townsend. When the lights first dim, you're treated to an abstract sensory overload of sounds, language and sights. However, Kuhl and Townsend's scene design is the initial thing you encounter that starts to clue you in to the message of the piece. At first glance, you see string stretched from floor to ceiling. Upon further inspection, you see several layers of this string. For me, the entire stage was a loom. The Players in our lives (especially our mothers) are the strings interweaving to become the fabric that is our lives. I don't know if this is exactly what Kuhl and Townsend were going for. Nonetheless, it was their design that helped me comprehend what I was watching.
Kudos to the ensemble including Two-Headed Calf regulars Laryssa Husiak and Mike Mikos as well as new music vocalists Kate Soper and Beth Griffith. Accompanying them is the acclaimed Yarn/Wire + Strings, consisting of Ian Antonio (percussion), Laura Barger (piano), Russell Greenberg (percussion), Joshua Modney (violin), Mariel Roberts (cello) and Ning Yu (keyboard). Their dissection of language and music brought more depth and levels to the tapestry than a traditional opera ever would.
It would be absolutely ridiculous if you missed this run. Performances are Thursdays – Sundays at 7:30pm, along with Saturdays matinees at 2:30pm and an additional performance on Monday, February 20 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors and can be purchased online at http://LaMaMa.org, in person at the box office or by calling 212-475-7710. The running time is 80 minutes. For more information visit http://www.TwoHeadedCalf.org.