‘Feet First in the Water With a Baby in My Teeth’
at Synchronicity Theatre
There’s no disputing Megan Gogerty is a talented writer who has written a fresh one-woman show about her life as a mother, daughter and wife. As an actor, however, she has a way to go.
In “Feet First in the Water with a Baby in My Teeth,” Gogerty paints a clear picture of her life as a new mom. Her arm becomes a baby, her baby a butterball turkey, and a step stool becomes a whining toddler who refuses to put on his pants. I see it before my very eyes.
Her writing rings true to life, and she has worked out the moments of the script so that she hits the mark each time. The problem is the mark is off base.
Gogerty tends to emote and push her acting. It’s over the top and not true to life. It appears as if she has mapped out each moment in her script to be carefully acted. She knows how she wants her acting to appear. She pretends to be excited. She pretends to be angry. She pretends to be scared. She asks a question to the audience and pretends not to hear the one person who answers quite loudly.
Gogerty may have lived the script in real life. She doesn’t live it on stage. She acts it on stage. If she could actually scold her child rather than pretend to get mad him, she’d have us with her. You want to be with her, in her world, because her script is novel, funny and interesting.
From the name of her play to the moniker of her son “Turk”—the butterball turkey baby who weighed 10 pounds at birth—Gogerty is a writer through and through.
Naysayers will no doubt write me and defend Gogerty. They’ll say it’s hard to capture an audience in a one-woman show and that her acting is meant to be lively. But truth is truth. That is what makes her script so good. She writes with the kind of deep truth we experience that people pretend not to see–the truth about the pains of raising a baby and not going as far as we would have liked to in our careers.
I believe the stories Gogerty tells no matter how far out they seem. I believe her story about her great-grandmother who worked in the kitchen of a steamboat on the Mississippi River. When a fire struck the boat, even though she was a 16-year-old mother who couldn’t swim, she grabbed her baby, jumped feet first into the water, and dog-paddled a half mile to shore, clutching her baby in her teeth by the diaper. Whether Gogerty’s stories are true, I believe in them because her writing is so descriptive and lively.
Great scripts for one-woman shows are hard to find. And when a great, comedic actress finds this one, it’s going to be one hell of a show.
Synchronicity Theatre presents “Feet First in the Water with a Baby in My Teeth,” written and performed by Megan Gogerty and directed by Alexis Chamow, through Dec. 18 at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s.