The Mother Hunt
“Who am I?” every teenager wonders. But when you’re the only fatty in your family- and you’re adopted- the potential answers blow up like the distorted images in a house of mirrors. In her autobiographical one-woman show, Homecoming (ArcLight Theatre), Lauren Weedman mines this dilemma’s possibilities.
Enacting all the players in her life, the writer-performer takes us on a whirlwind journey that will reveal her birth mother’s identity. When she asks her adoptive Mom for some info, “Lauren” unwittingly launches her well-meaning but daffy parent on a quest. As Mom plays bumbling detective inside the Indiana social service bureaucracy and the adoptees’ support group network, Lauren writhes in humiliation, confusion, and hope.
Weedman delineates her characters well. Grandma, stooped and not all there, erupts in incoherent cliches about her origins. Mom bristles with eccentric tics and manic energy, and sister Lisa, a Valley girl-ish princess, alternately blubbers her affection and issues orders about folding her sweaters. Weedman also portrays a motley assortment of adoption-world people, who add color to this carnival.
Some of the adoptees’ tales and imaginings are sad and funny. One girl envisions a 400-pound dimwit for a mother; another’s dad introduces her as my “mistake.” As Lauren tries on different ethnicities, from Hispanic and black to Jewish, she makes us laugh. But Weedman also wanders over terrain only peripherally relevant to her story, like tongue-kissing her black boyfriend and the goings-on at Granny’s funeral.
If all this seems as if it could be wildly funny or achingly poignant, well, that’s the aim. Despite director Maryann Lombardi’s sudden infusions of raucous music and dancing, Homecoming drags at times. Weedman, appealing and talented, makes us want to like her and her work. But her piece, like the adolescent it portrays, needs to lose that baby fat and sharpen its silhouette.