SHE NEVER BOUGHT ME AN EASY-BAKE OVEN written by Kerri MacDonald and Tricia Williams, directed by MacDonald, with Diane L. Daniel, Raven Dauda, Tracey Hoyt, Keira Loughran and Williams. Presented by the Easy-Bake Collective at the Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). Runs to April 20, Thursday-Friday 9 pm, Saturday 10:30 pm. $20, stu/srs $16. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
mother doesn't always know best, but she sure exerts a big influence on her daughter, sometimes bending her offspring out of shape. Though She Never Bought Me An Easy-Bake Oven is scripted by director Kerri MacDonald and performer Tricia Williams, it's not hard to see that the other collective members -- Diane L. Daniel, Raven Dauda, Tracey Hoyt and Keira Loughran -- had a hand in creating the show's mother/daughter material.
And striking material it is, a blend of embellished nursery rhymes, lullabies and sketches that give a piquant, double-edged gloss to what may be the most primal human relationship. Who but her mother could make a woman fearful of plaid, become a cross-dresser or be the perfect partner for watching the old Carol Burnett Show?
It's the comic material that works best, and Williams -- the anchor of this production -- does it superbly, with a toss of the head, a quick vocal inflection and razor-sharp timing, as in the title piece, when she regrets getting a no-name version of the oven she covets.
One of the best scenes involves Williams as a daughter trying desperately to be independent and Hoyt as her manipulative mother, on side-by-side gym treadmills, planning their day. It's hard to see who's trying to outrun -- or keep up with -- whom in the laugh-filled sketch.
There are some touching and a few sad moments as well, and again Williams shines as she warmly recalls her own mother. The other cast members -- notably Loughran and Daniel -- also impress, and the actors and MacDonald have clearly poured a lot of love into the show.
But neither the choreography nor the choral-style work where a group of women play one composite mother adds much icing to this bittersweet cake.