Entertainment » Theatre

Mommy Queerest

by Adam Brinklow
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Mar 4, 2014
Kat Evasco is ’Mommy Queerest’
Kat Evasco is ’Mommy Queerest’  (Source:EXIT Theatre)

Kat Evasco's big voice arrived at the not-very-big EXIT Theatre on Friday. We're not saying our ears are ringing, but if we did we might not be able to hear ourselves.

Set against a background of delightfully tacky '90s pop culture, Evasco's new one-woman show "Mommy Queerest" (directed and co-written by John Caldon) opened to a packed house that included Evasco's titular mother herself, who watched her daughter relive the ins and outs of coming of age, coming out, and coming to terms with Mom.

Yep, another LGBT-themed story about a young person searching for identity has landed. Those well-versed in the tenets of confessional writing know the stops on this route already: sexual awakening, friction with hidebound immigrant culture, family politics, abuse, lies, drugs, etc. You've seen one-woman shows like this before. Chances are rehearsals for another are happening within two hundreds yards of you right now. So the big question becomes: What makes "Mommy Queerest" worth it?

Is she allowed to say this onstage: "It was just a lot all at once. I don't think my mouth is big enough."

The title tips us off about the first twist on the old trick: As Evasco comes out to her mother, Mom has some personal reckoning of her own to do. She's in a 20-year relationship with another woman but won't acknowledge it (Evasco calls this the "walk-in closet"). On top of that, Evasco presents some very frank material about her own experimental phase (in this case a span of roughly the period from birth until death). Though a lesbian, she's not shy about detailing dalliances with the opposite sex too.

This may qualify "Mommy Queerest" as more queer art than traditionally gay art, although to be sure we ought to hold some litmus paper to Evasco's arm and see which shade of rainbow it turns. The point remains that while the story beats are sometimes familiar, the world they're set again becomes more nuanced than we expect.

Is she allowed to say this onstage: "'Kat, if you keep watching porn, Jesus will take your eyes out in heaven.'"

As Evasco comes out to her mother, Mom has some personal reckoning of her own to do. She’s in a 20-year relationship with another woman but won’t acknowledge it (Evasco calls this the "walk-in closet").

Evasco seems more comfortable as a comedian than an actor. She's natural and likable but seems to clam up a little during the serious moments and tends to turn her face away from the audience. Two strong assets boost the performance: First, Evasco is the world's most foul-mouthed (foul-handed?) mime.

Better that we not describe precisely what she's miming most of the time, but feel free to use your imagination. Are we even allowed to be watching this? Should we have called the police? If there's any justice in the world, the bit where she makes out with a door frame (don't ask) will become a GIF within a week.

Second, when it's all said and done, Evasco's final summation on the topic of Mom shows an unexpected degree of sympathy. Some of the figures in the show, like Mom's live-in lesbian lover, seem only partially realized, but Evasco really gets Mom and when it counts most she puts Mom on the stage in a way that feels real. The hard part about a solo show lies in convincing the audience that your story matters enough to warrant the effort. Evasco gets that.

Is she allowed to say this onstage: "I think he might have had eczema, but he had a really nice dick."

Those who have already seen too many shows in this vein probably won't want to make an exception for "Mommy Queerest." But do try to remember Evasco's name anyway. She's bound to come up again and this show illustrates a number of reasons why that's a good thing.

The show is good for: Anyone who thinks they've heard it all.

The show is not good for: Anyone who would prefer not to hear it all.

"Mommy Queerest" plays through March 29 at the EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy St in San Francisco. For tickets and information, call 415-931-1094 or go to TheExit.org.

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