KPBS AIRDATE: March 23, 2007
They say there are two sides to every story… but there are three sides to this one. “The Adoption Project: Triad” triangulates the issue of adoption, taking a woman’s eye view from three perspectives: the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. The writer, Kimber Lee, is a Korean adoptee who spent three years researching and interviewing folks who’d been involved in adoption. Her intention was to open a community dialogue, to expose the myths and realities of the adoption process. She mostly succeeds, although the play doesn’t really delve very deeply into the issues. But it addresses the increasingly common practice from various angles, both serious and comical, and it definitely gets you thinking.
At times, the piece seems a little more informational than dramatic, but the actors are wonderful, and the director, Mo’olelo founder/artistic director Seema Sueko, does everything possible to maintain interest and attention.
She brought in Erika Malone, from Eveoke Dance Theatre, to choreograph some stylized moves that show aspects of the women’s relationships words can’t always express. The actors aren’t dancers, but their simple, evocative movements mirror their shared but separate pain and anguish. The words and actions of the three main characters underscore the sense of loss, lies and fear that plagues those involved in the adoption process.
Each one has a gaping hole in her life. The birth mother wonders what that child she relinquished grew up to be. The adoptive mother struggles with the secrecy and cover-ups that surround adoption. The adoptive daughter, who decides to track down her birth mother, wonders why she was given up, why she wasn’t good enough to keep, and who she really is.
Each actor plays multiple roles, and that’s the most fun part of the production, providing ample comic relief in this dense, intense subject. This is a very strong cast of local actors, some of San Diego’s finest.
Linda Libby is excellent as the ex-hippie Earth mother/birth mother, and also a techno-nerd lesbian friend of the adoptee and a whacked-out, an insensitive, over-the-top adoption judge. Sandy Campbell is the upright, uptight adoptive mother, more concerned with flower arranging than her daughter’s deepest fears and feelings. Then she dons a blonde wig, drops her r’s and morphs into Barbara Walters, an adoptive mother herself, asking intrusive, embarrassing questions for a TV interview. Jo Anne Glover is terrific as Aggie, the smart, confused and wounded daughter, who has a little trouble with intimate relationships and a lot of uncertainty about how she fits in and where she belongs. She’s also funny in a mother-daughter soap opera scene. So each woman feels isolated, fragile, lonely and unsure of her life decisions.
The production values are basic, the actors simply dressed, handing off costume pieces that quickly create a character change. The wide-open space of the Centro Cultural de la Raza doesn’t provide much assistance. It’s cavernous, which affects the sound quality, especially during the moments of overlapping dialogue. And there are those huge pillars that interfere with sightlines. The action is back by a large wall that is written on by the characters; throughout the piece, they scrawl emotionally charged words like GUILT and LIES. And that ties in with the public art installation at the Centro that’s being curated by community artist Jodi Tucci Brisebois, who’s also credited with scenic design. A wall behind the audience allows spectators to write, draw or tack up their own words, stories, memories or mementoes about adoption.
So, this multi-faceted subject is captured in a multi-artform event – drama, dance and visual art in the service of education, edification and social relevance.
©2007 Patté Productions Inc.