Momma was a Bad Mutha's flyer touts it as 'the universal story of a young girl's untimely coming of age amidst her momma's weekend house parties.’ While it is not a stipulation of theatrics or literature to be relatable to be enjoyable, this performance may have little or no resonance with its UK audience.
Momma was a Bad Mutha contains a story worthy of a stage production, but suffers from poor execution.
It bears all the hallmarks of a poorly directed and mismanaged one-person show. An obvious problem is the staggering number of characters introduced; we are barely allowed time to understand who our protagonist is before star Fylicia Renee King adopts another aunt, or brother, or sister, or uncle, or boyfriend. Each character is allowed their five minutes of fame, so to speak. In truth, while King must see all these characters as forming a part of her story, their presence actually detracts from her own character's development. The play seems to be based on the assumption that we must already know her; what we in fact receive is a show developing those who surround her. The audience does not know King; a show about and by her must go to greater lengths to elucidate her character above the rest. The aim may be to develop a matrix of characters around King in order to direct a light on her, but it does not quite work.
King herself is not a bad actor. In fact, I believe under good direction she could perform very well. Unfortunately this show seems devoid of direction. Character development must come from an actor who adopts and develops the traits of that particular character, but these ten characters are too much for King to portray with nuance and clarity. Her conversations with herself had me finding it very hard to suspend my disbelief. The lack of direction is also obvious in her movement. It is a challenge for a single performer to command a stage, moving about it without awkwardness. Often props can help with this, but King's props didn’t aid her: they were lazily selected and sporadically placed.
Momma was a Bad Mutha contains a story worthy of a stage production, but suffers from poor execution. Its lack of direction, writing and production has let King down.