“If you can’t make it better, you had better laugh at it. And if you can laugh at it, you can live with it,” beloved humorist Erma Bombeck once said.
MainStage Irving-Las Colinas has taken her advice, and continues to rise above adversity, delivering laughter through their production of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, streaming from the Dupree Theatre of the Irving Arts Center through December 1.
This one-woman play, written by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel, is both funny and beautifully poignant.
Bombeck became a household name in the ‘70s and ‘80s, having chronicled the unique concerns of motherhood and suburban homesteading with humor and vulnerability, as showcased in her nationally syndicated column, “At Wit’s End.” During Bombeck’s career, over 30 million readers were entertained and inspired by her words which illustrated the fact that being a housewife isn’t always glamorous, and is certainly not easy.
Ellen Locy, the starring lead of the MainStage show, enters the stage in a vintage dress and penny loafers, bustling through the small living room, fussing over kids at breakfast before they set off with Dad to school. She later pushes a vacuum across the stage, smooths the wrinkles from a dress shirt, and turns that very ironing board into her desk before tapping away on a typewriter. She looks into the camera, continuing to address the viewer directly, speaking articulately and genuinely.
“I think every mother has a favorite child. I have one – although right now I’m not sure any of mine is on the list,” Locy’s Bombeck says with a charming smirk. However, in the same conversation, she continues that, “The favorite child is always the same one. The one who needs you, at the moment, for whatever reason.”
Locy draws in the viewer with perfectly executed punchlines that roll off the tongue, and emotive facial expressions that are as charming, and hilarious, as the words themselves. Beyond the laughter, however, there were moments of true vulnerability, including a closer, intimate look into Bombeck’s childhood, marriage, and struggle with a life-altering illness.
“I wrote all those years, not for the money, but for me and for the other mothers,” Locy says powerfully, a sidewise grin on her face, eyes alight. However, her import as a champion for all women has left a resounding mark in history.
As the play’s director, Michael Serrecchia, says, “Bombeck’s home-grown, yet wickedly funny observations of the plight of the American housewife and family not only entertained us but helped in building the path to the Equal Rights Amendment for women.”
Serrecchia draws the relevance between Bombeck, who died in 1996, and today. “During these turbulent times, many have found solace and humor in clever tweets about child rearing, household management and personal relationships. Now is the perfect time to revisit and spend an evening with one of America’s leading humorists.”
For mothers, grandmothers, aunts, wives, and anyone who has had a maternal figure or raised children, this is a must-see. For anyone who is looking for a well-spent hour of entertainment, this is a must-see.
The show is available for on-demand streaming through Tuesday, December 1.
Access codes are $19 individually or $29 (group/family).
During these challenging times, the MainStage board of directors, team, and volunteers have remained busy, producing high-quality theatre as safely as possible. Support your local artists by purchasing a Flex Pass, or direct other ticketing questions to the MainStage’s administrative office (972-594-6104) or Irving Arts Center Box Office (972-252-2787).
Cover photo courtesy SoloShoe Communications, LLC
N.L.Thi-Hamrick is devoted to all things that bring joy: good food, writing freely, lots of smiles,
and pursuing things that make you feel worthwhile.