Lisa Anne Ross is offering her Engorged: A One Woman Cabaret About Motherhood to the Fredericton community for two nights only at the Black Box Theatre on St. Thomas Campus. The play was previously shown in New York City (2013) and very recently in Ottawa, Ontario.
Ross has dug deep into her life as a mother and composed a very comical, truthful and poignant piece about what she calls “the depths of motherhood.” The one-woman show relies heavily on irony to fuel the laughs, with wittily-written phrases like: “Motherhood is a bloodsport fueled by Instagram and organic baby carrots.”
Ross, well known to Fredericton’s theatre community and a former employee of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, founded Solo Chicken Productions in 2004 in Toronto and brought it with her when she moved to Fredericton. Exactly one year ago, the company brought audiences a collaborative play called Rabbit-Town, also co-written by Ross with Robin Whittaker and Ryan Griffith.
Wearing an extravagant vagina pink around her neck, Ross shows herself to be a master of comedic timing and improvisation. She adapts the play to her Fredericton audience, making light of “all of [her] mom’s friends” being in the audience.
The play Engorged is divided into five performances by different characters (played by Ross), brought together by the cabaret host. Individual pieces include “Organic Mama”, “Conversation with Guilt,” and a monologue around motherhood and social media (complete with a few selfies). Those familiar with the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler will see some similarities with Ross’ piece.
Despite the absence of Ross’ voice, one exquisite piece is “A Road to Breastopia,” a piece done using projected images, props, and shadowgraphy on a soundtrack of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” Fredericton artist and musician Penelope Stevens helped Ross with creating the projections.
One section of the audience is seated at tables, as if in a real-life nightclub or dinner theatre, and, much like a real-life cabaret, audience participation is requested.
Kudos to the play’s director, Lisandra Dodson, for her keen eye to detail (and excellent flashlight skills) as well as to Chris Saad for his technical direction.
Sophie M. Lavoie writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op.