By Alex Miller
Our lives are a series of memories, rituals, items, and the memories of other people. For Teresa Thome, her mother’s memories and, therefore, her own memories, will be the topic of conversation tonight.
Ms. Thome has red hair, eyeglasses peering toward the sky on the top of her head, and dazzling blue eyes like an iceberg just beneath the water’s surface.
A green tablecloth with a book. A projected image of a house on a white backdrop. Small pullout drawers. A clothing rack full of outfits you wouldn’t expect to see outside of the Antiques Roadshow. Ms. Thome shows us how each item of clothing has its own, mostly humorous story to tell. These are some of the many items that prop up the storytelling, which seems slight.
At her mother’s funeral, Ms. Thome’s father seemed like he was enjoying the gospel a little too much. The priest noticed. Ms. Thome said that it wasn’t the gospel… it was the Ho Hos. This was the first time in 49 years her 300‑pound diabetic father wasn’t being judged for what he put into his body.
Her mother Imelda often threatened to haunt everyone if they didn’t do what she asked when she was alive. She made constant lists, in the event she ever lost her memory. She also hid lots of DNRs around the house, in case she suddenly died instead of just losing her mind. As head nurse at a Michigan hospital, Imelda owned several prescription drug pads… and she often filled her own scripts.
Although this play introduces some fascinating characters, without the props, it would have a difficult time standing on its own merits. Ms. Thome is funny, but she leans heavily on anecdotes at the expense of exploring the substance and gravity of the situations she describes. The storytelling peaks when Ms. Thome’s mother is on her deathbed, at her most vulnerable, delicate and open. It is a dimension we never see again, sadly.
Ms. Thome says that, many years after her mother’s passing, she realized that her mother’s verbal abuse had been beneficial to her. The epiphany doesn’t seem entirely earned. Having spent so much time illustrating Imelda’s bad parenting, Ms. Thome doesn’t quite show us how she processed her emotions to finally accept her mother’s mistakes and forgive her for her worst actions. Instead, we’re left wondering how Ms. Thome skipped so many steps in the grieving process.
The title, a reference to the snack that Ms. Thome’s mother used to carry around in her purse, doesn’t seem to evoke a larger concept or theme. More context and depth would enhance this daughter’s remembrance of her difficult mother.
Written and Performed by Elizabeth Mozer
Directed by Stan Zimmerman
October 27 at 7:30PM
Photo: courtesy of the production
2019 United Solo Theatre Festival
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
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ALEX MILLER, a Chicago native, has been a professional writer and editor for 6 years. He joined the Navy in 2004, and served for four years in such places as Haiti, Iraq, and Somalia. He has a degree in Public Engagement from The New School, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Forbes, The New York Daily News, and QZ, among others. He lives in Harlem.