A theme rapidly made itself known during my second day of the Fringe Festival, and that theme was boobies. Yep, boobies; as in hooters, knockers, melons—a thousand names abound for these two fairly ubiquitous body parts. And from that first nature vs. nurture dilemma of breastfeeding, like it or not, they play an important role in almost everyone’s life. In short (and sometimes long), boobs mean business, and two shows at Venue 16—The Players Theatre are giving the duo their due.
‘rie Shontel’s solo show Mama Juggs, is set in the cozily cluttered living room of Great-Grandma Suga Babe, where the centenarian matriarch holds forth, as often in song as in speech, on one of her favorite topics: the abiding importance of the “titty jugg.” In fact, the titty soon reveals itself as a shared familial obsession, as Great-grandmother, Mother, and Shontel herself converse—with each other and with the audience—about their sometimes complicated relationships with their bosom buddies. From Suga Babe’s pointed songs about the importance of proper breast-feeding technique (“If you keep taking so long with that titty milk, Mama, I’ll surely die,”), to mother Mabel-Ree’s losing battle with the cancer that spreads “like a waterfall” from her breast to the rest of her body, to teenage Shontel’s charter membership of the schoolyard “itty-bitty-titty-committee,” the fiercely funny, sharp-tongued women of the family eschew mawkish sentimentality for straight talk about topics rarely given a public airing. Shontel’s affectionate portrayal of her strong-willed clan is a study in shape shifting, as she morphs convincingly into each character without even having to get up from her easy chair. It’s no easy task to engage in a family squabble when you have to play all the relevant roles yourself, but Shontel rises admirably to it. Read more