“‘The Party Invite’ Rocks The New Mom Text Theatre Movement and Gives Audience Members a (Mostly) Rollicking Good Time,” by Liz Lydic

Oct 26th, 2022 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

“The Party Invite” Rocks The New Mom Text Theatre Movement and Gives Audience Members a (Mostly) Rollicking Good Time

By Daughter Sara

When the universe alters to another dimension and cell phones are a relic of the past, the way cave writing once was for our ancestors, future spawnings will perhaps find solace and respite in the stories from our technological generation, and there’s nothing more ‘generational’ than that of a parent connecting with their children in the digital space.

In Mom’s new piece, “The Party Invite,” which premiered last Monday, April 5 to text group ‘Family,’ Mom attempts to communicate invitation details for Dad’s 70th Surprise Birthday Party.

“Hey jiffy’s need your help planing dad 70th jdtgsat party. Shhhhh don’t tell him it’s a surprising” is the electric opening to this 90-minute one-woman show. Several other Gen X’ers seated in my vicinity laughed in recognition as Mom’s tour-de-force got underway. Quickly into the first act, Mom rooted the tone of the production by making several references to strippers, at first appearing to be serious, until finally admitting that she was ‘making a funny.’ She went on to text about Dad’s erectile dysfunction medicine, leaving the audience unclear if Mom was still joking. This bold choice proved lucrative as she continued to share plans for the party with assignments for her three children:

“John Workbuddy Iu to pick up ice for drinks and drinks.

Sara will need you to help me make photo collage but di know how to do lots of things in Shutrfky already got an account and figured out how to move the pictures around pretty well but also I need that picture of yiu and dad in Hawaii when you had your period for the first time and yiu were wearing that white skirt.

Matt please plan to come over early and hang up big gigantic oversized throb huge banner on fireplace mantle and maybe ski toy can clean the flue for me it’s been a long time and lupe hasn’t been doing a very Ford job lately.”

Compared with previous text productions, “The Party Invite” – performed exclusively from Mom’s cell phone, and also directed by Mom – takes Mom’s predictable habits and turns them on their head. A collective cringe ran through the audience, for example, when it was revealed that Mom had sent fourteen different messages regarding the start time of the party, leaving recipients exacerbated and confused.

Perhaps the best-executed moment in the piece occurs when Mom suggests several gifts for Dad. With a clever use of screenshot images, Mom shared pics of graphic T-shirts from Amazon, sporting slogans such as ‘BJ’s Pineapple Juice: Taste the Difference’; ‘A Clean Beaver Always Gets More Wood’; and one with simply an eggplant wrapped in a taco. Mom described each as ‘real neat,’ and ‘made with high quality soft cotton,’ effectively portraying a woman who had stumbled upon the adult humor section of the mega online shopping site clearly by accident and truly thought the naughty cartoon beaver was ‘adorable.’

Act Two kicks off with Mom adding several new members to the text recipient group, including cousins Christina, Jason and Nick, and Aunt Suzanne. Visually stunning was the moment when as many as twenty contact avatars materialized, including several non-family individuals. This comedy of errors initially doled out the effective chaotic pacing we’ve come to expect from Mom, but for me, it’s also what kept this production from reaching its full potential.

“The Party Invite” ends with a stunning twist (spoiler alert), wherein it is revealed that Dad has been added to the text thread about his own surprise party. This felt a little contrived and disingenuous, though surely following the “error,” Mom was able to enact her riotous 30-minute solo production, “Whoops!”, (who can forget that showstopping number ‘I Could Have Sworn That Sam Elliott Was In ‘Batman’’?) which has yet to find a receptive audience. Here, though, in “The Party Invite,” the dramatic arc was lost in Mom’s derived attention-seeking and time-wasting by sacrificing the surprise element of the party itself in the final denouement. Unfortunately, Mom’s attempt at ‘silly me’ cuteness in the play’s conclusion missed the mark. As Mom herself says: You don’t always get what you want. It’s a hard lesson, but you might as well learn it now.

Daughter Sara is a critic.


Liz Lydic is a mom, writer, and an admin for a fire department in the Los Angeles area. She also does theatre stuff. lizlydic.com

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