By Bree O'Connor; Directed by Jill DeArmon
Produced by Playful Substance
Part of the 2017 FRIGID New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 3.5.17
Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
by Sarah Weber on 2.26.17
Kim Rios Lin and Jamie Klassel in SAHM's Club. Photo by Lorenzo Tijerina.
BOTTOM LINE: A group of Brooklyn moms meet the new girl in town at a local park and introduce her to the madness of modern parenting in NYC.
Every winter the FRIGID Festival infuses the East Village with exciting new works. But, if you only have time to see one show, and you are all too familiar with the three-ring circus that is modern parenting, then Bree O’Conner’s SAHM’s Club is a treat you don’t want to miss.
Set in a park in Brooklyn, SAHM's Club introduces us to the different types of parents you may find and the varying degrees to which they function (or don't) in a world that expects them to be multi-tasking masters. Our guide through this story is Melody (Kim Rios Lin), a single mother who has just moved to New York from Ohio with her two sons. She has been invited by one of the locals, Kate (Jamie Klassel) to meet her "mommy friends" at this park they frequent with their children. Before the other mothers arrive we start to see how Melody and Kate’s dramatically opposing parenting styles will put them at odds with each other. Kate is your stereotypically neurotic helicopter mom who also happens to be a helicopter friend, whereas Melody is what the play refers to as a "Free Ranger"—she believes in trusting her children to take care of themselves and, as a single mom, she frankly doesn’t have the time to painstakingly oversee every little thing they do.
Other members of this club includes the tough-as-nails Sabine (Megan Greener) and the token father of the club Rob (Ron Phippen). As Melody meets the other members we see her self-doubts bubble to the surface when they tell her just how much she’s expected to do, like scheduling interviews with preschools (yes, you read that right), and the extent to which others may severely judge her parenting style. As the group’s conversations about NYC living devolve into chaos, so does the children’s playtime, when Kate’s daughter pushes Melody’s son off the monkey bars, breaking his arm.
Though one could argue that O’Connor’s characters feel like tropes, each one seems incredibly familiar—I felt I had either met or babysat for every one of the parents in the play. The stellar cast adds hilarious yet poignant depth to each character, making you both love and hate them, all at once. And director Jill DeArmon cleverly uses the entire theater to ground the audience in the very real chaos you can feel when bringing your children to a park or playground.
Simply put, SAHM’s Club is packed with non-stop laughter. Though it holds up a stern mirror reflecting society, classism, and how these things seep into NYC parenting culture, knowing O’Connor’s a Brooklyn-based mother invites us to both laugh at and with these mothers. And if you’re a parent, you may well laugh at yourself a bit, too.
(SAHM's Club plays at the Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through March 5, 2017. The running time is one hour. Performances are Fri 2/17 at 8:30, Sat 2/18 at 1:40, Mon 2/20 at 10:30, Wed 3/1 at 8:50, and Sun 3/5 at 3:30. Tickets are $18, and are available at FRIGIDNewYork.info.)
SAHM’s Club is by Bree O'Connor. Directed by Jill DeArmon. Assistant Director is Nicole Amaral.
The cast is Jamie Klassel, Kim Rios Lin, Megan Greener, Nicol Moeller, Kaili Y. Turner, and Ron Phippen.