‘rie Shontel’s Mama Juggs: Three Generations Healing Negative Body Images


Common Ground Theatre

March 19-20; rieshontel.blogspot.com

‘rie Shontel’s autobiographical theater work is a strange amalgam of comedy, pathos and public service announcement. Set in a shabby Oakland, CA, public housing living room where she grew up, which is oddly draped with a small fortune in brand-new bras, Mama Juggs is a series of related skits about the author and her family, focused on breasts, their life-giving force and their death-dealing disease.

This is certainly fertile ground for theatrical exploration, but Shontel does not take it very far-however, if you should somehow have been ignorant of the correct way to check your breasts for lumps, you will be educated.

If you have trouble with the idea of multiple generations of the same family living in public housing, keep in mind that the author-by day public radio producer Anita Woodley-has broken the cycle. Shontel is as adept as a mockingbird at creating the individual voices and forms of her characters, all of whom are piquant and interesting.

Some of the stories are wonderful, and she is an excellent storyteller, with an instinct for comic timing. This is not a play, with arc, crisis and resolution, but a story-telling event with some charming playacting.