'Louder Than A Mom' Flounders Without Focus Or Context
By Allison Kelley in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 29, 2014 9:45PM
'Louder Than A Mom' image via the group's Facebook page
One thing we can say about new storytelling series, Louder Than a Mom is that it is loud. "Louder than a mom" loud? We're not sure. Can you really quantify that? We tried. We thought of the times that moms are at their loudest and compared them to the volume at last night’s show. This is a list of times when mom’s are louder than the series performers:
1. Child birth
2. Losing a kid in Disney World
3. Lice outbreak.
The reason we're hung up on the name is because we sat through the 90-minute show and still don’t understand what the series is about. We feel like we should know at least that.
When we're new to a place, we like to be shown the ropes. If we go to a restaurant for the first time, we expect the waiter to tell us a little about the place, highlight the specials and maybe even recommend a drink. The same thing goes with shows we attend. If you’re doing a public show where you charge money and encourage people to “tell a friend” than the night must be inclusive. Last night we got the feeling that we were the only off-the-street / off-the-internet member in the audience. Several readers took the stage with the insider introductions, “Hi, I’m ______. Most of you know me.” One woman even extended the familiarity to her mom, “My mom _____. Some of you know her.” I looked around. Everyone in the audience was laughing and clapping. I racked my brain. Did I know her mom? Sadly, no.
The show started a half hour late, which we understand happens. However, if you’re at the 15-minute mark you have to get on the mic and let people know what’s up. The audience needs that reassurance that you are aware of the situation, respectful of everyone’s time, and are working to remedy the issue. At the least, you need to issue a quick “sorry for the wait” whenever the show is finally underway. This didn’t happen last night.
Readers did not get introductions. We're not a huge fan of bios that read like IMDB lists but we need something. It’s disorientating when a person is welcomed on stage with just a name. It’s almost like the performers needed no introduction because everyone listening already knew them.
Formatting was also unclear. As we mentioned, we were left to make up our own conclusions about the series' theme. From the Facebook page we assumed we would be hearing stories about moms and summer camp from a curated list of writers, "inspired by parenting." Some of the stories were exclusively mom-driven, others talked only about camp. Being a mom was also not a prerequisite, as some of the readers were male. One reader was a DJ who admitted he had just moments ago come up with his story after walking by Martyrs' and seeing the poster. His performance felt very open mic and yet we hadn’t come to that part of the night.
Intermission was an invitation to visit the S’more’s bar set up along the front wall. We admit this was one of the best announcements we've heard a in a long time and one we never thought we'd hear at a storytelling show. (Though it did fit the confused theme of the night.) Building our S’more, we felt not unlike a child distracted by her parents from their imploding marriage. We ate the sweets but still knew what was up.
The show closed with a “Theresa,” the host's name for their open mic. Audience members were encouraged to go on stage and share a sentence or a one minute anecdote about moms, camp, etc. This yielded perhaps the brightest moment of the night when a man told the story of how his mom had him thrown in the county jail when he was 5 years old. The image of a 5-year-old locked in a cell, left to contemplate his “bad behavior” was finally the moment of connection we were looking for. We laughed and felt momentarily at ease, but by then it was 10 o’clock and we needed to go home to a place we recognized.