Mother daughter relationships, often fraught, have long been meat for the arts. Over the last few years, we’re seeing an increase in writer/performer shows provoked by an absence of sufficient theatrical work. This particular one is a personal story.
Leenya Rideout is a remarkably talented performer. In the course of 90 minutes, she skillfully plays piano, toy piano, fiddle, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, bass, and, is undoubtedly versed in banjo, though she doesn’t get to the one on the wall tonight. The instruments hang with a hose, a paddle, a bicycle wheel, a snow shoe, antlers…and a number of amateur paintings (by her mother) on walls of what looks like a garage in Narelle Sissons’ genial Set.
Our heroine also sings well, moves with grace, and seems to be an actor with presence and focus. The chronicle itself, of a struggling performer (from touring musicals to rock bands) whose mom just wants her to find a nice boy and settle down, is sympathetic, if not original.
Mom is apparently not doing much with her own talent which, in Leenya’s eyes, gives her less credibility. We get a good look at both women; dialogue lands with veracity. Sixteen songs (and three reprises) are less successful, arriving with extremely similar rhythm and melody. Lyrics are hit or miss, from clever to pedestrian. The show is easily too long by half an hour.
Wild Abandon is a showcase. If I were Rideout, I’d put a long video excerpt on YouTube, cut and take the show to The Edinburgh Fringe. Its asset is the lead.
Sound Design by Brendan Aanes is top notch. Overlapping of recorded and live music works wonderfully. Individual instruments are pristine.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Irish Repertory Theatre presents
Written and performed by Leenya Rideout
Directed by Lisa Rothe
Through October 21, 2018
Irish Repertory Theatre
132 Wesr 22nd Street