Baby Mama: Take 1 (Critic's Pick)

One of the best things about the Fringe is discovering new artists. Mariah MacCarthy makes her Cincinnati debut with this one-woman show about giving her baby up for adoption. And what a discovery she is.

click to enlarge 'Baby Mama'
'Baby Mama'

One of the best things about the Fringe is discovering new artists. Mariah MacCarthy makes her Cincinnati debut with this one-woman show about giving her baby up for adoption. And what a discovery she is. MacCarthy has a breezy, conversational style. It’s almost like you’re a guest at her party, where she holds court telling compelling, honest stories. There’s no pretense. And while there’s obviously a script, you get the sense she’s never tied to it but has the freedom to express herself however she wants.And there’s also no doubt that she will. MacCarthy is a striking woman, tall with short hair, unshaven underarms, and no apparent body shame. Or any sort of shame at all, given the way she recounts sexual escapades with directness and unabashed honesty. Despite talking about uncomfortable subjects, her audience is so welcomed by her presence that it’s not awkward. There’s no need to squirm because we’re in good hands.Refreshingly bold, MacCarthy’s New York sensibility is a welcome breath of fresh air in often conservative Cincinnati. There’s nothing repressed about her sexuality, but more than that, she’s completely vulnerable about her feelings, emotions, successes and failures. Yes, this show is about her journey as a birth mother. But it’s also an exploration of relationship with one’s self. It’s a lonely thing to be, she tells us, despite the unwavering support she received from her friends — because there’s so much inherent societal shame. Despite this message, the show is neither preachy nor judgmental. It’s just her story.This monologue is well-formed, but lightly staged. There are some lighting cues, but not many — two video monitors, but they are barely used. There might have been some sound cues; it was hard to tell if it was street noise at the OTR Community Church on Race Street or part of the show. This stripped-down production doesn’t harm the performance at all. But I wonder if a more theatrical approach would enhance the show. Maybe, maybe not.Speaking of stripped-down, MacCarthy does just that at the end of the show as she reenacts a performance she gave during a fundraiser while she was pregnant. But like the rest of the show, this bold statement isn’t shocking or sensational. Instead, it’s just another demonstration of the playwright’s comfort with herself and her audience.It’s that reciprocal comfort that the audience feels with her that earns this production a Critic’s Pick.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cincinnati CityBeat. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cincinnati CityBeat, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes.
No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email.
Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]