Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived

Like A Virgin
by Valerie Cardinal

I heard a lot about Michaela Di Cesare’s 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived on the Montreal Fringe circuit in 2011. I never got to see it, so I was excited to review it now, after it’s had a few years and a few more shows under its belt. 

8 Ways uses a quirky starting point to tell a unique and personal family story. According to family legend, Michaela’s mother was born of a virgin, much like Jesus. Throughout the play, Di Cesare explores the different possibilities surrounding her mother’s conception (spoiler alert: there are eight). Along the way, it becomes an exploration of four generations of women, and what womanhood means to each of them. 

Michaela Di Cesare definitely deserved a bigger opening night audience than she got at the Gladstone. She is a charming and charismatic performer as she quite literally puts herself in the shoes of multiple family members. However, she sometimes had trouble disappearing completely into the characters; conversations between family members occasionally became difficult to follow because there didn’t seem to be much of a switch.

It’s still amazing just how many characters and locations Di Cesare brings to life– she takes us from a deli in Montreal to the hills of Italy and back again. Tamara Brown’s direction and Lara Kaluza’s minimalistic set design put the focus squarely on Di Cesare, which is exactly where it should be.  

Di Cesare has crafted a compelling one-woman show that is equal parts love story, family mythology and personal journey. 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived is adorably funny and thought provoking, and will probably make you want to call your own mother right after the show ends.

Runs Nov. 20 -23
Run time: 75 minutes, no intermission

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