My Mother Had Two Faces

My Mother Had Two Faces. Courtesy
My Mother Had Two Faces. Courtesy

NEW YORK – My Mother Had Two Faces at Theatre Row

Telling our truth out loud is empowering, not only for the teller but for those who are a witness to the telling.

Karen Trachtenberg has written and now performs her family’s truth, expressing a complicated and universal story all can relate to. The two faces of her mother: one is devoted to her family face, and the other side of the mask is out of control and abusive. It goes without saying that it is confusing to a child to have a parent who is both the adoring mommy and then the monster who belittles you and constantly chastises your every move. One minute, you are being loved, and the next, you are attacked. Abusers in TV and film are portrayed as horrific, being only one thing and nothing more. But we humans are so much more complicated than those portrayals, and those complications are what Trachtenberg is exploring in her one-person show My Mother Had Two Faces, presented by United Solo Festival at Theatre Row.

The simple set, a small table with mirror and makeup, and a Mardi Gras-type mask. All specifically placed to illustrate how Trachtenberg’s mother, Verena Trachtenberg, was a woman devoted to her looks; makeup was her art. The makeup she wore as an outward cover to a jumbled inside and a way to illicit control. The constant cover-up linked to perfectionism was her mother’s vices. Verena’s home and her children must all be perfect. Fall off the pedestal of perfection or cause it to rock, and there will be consequences.

Karin Trachtenberg in a scene from My Mother Had Two Faces. Courtesy

Karin Trachtenberg in a scene from My Mother Had Two Faces. Courtesy

This is a quiet, fun, frightening, and beautiful performance by Trachtenberg as she wears the mask of her mother. Trachtenberg uses the fairy tale “Mirror on the Wall” (a video screen) as her acting partner. She is the face in the mirror asking herself deep questions that lead to deeper answers beyond the obvious, delving further into her mother’s world and her own. One of the windows we get to peek into is her mother’s diaries, which she found when cleaning her mother’s home after she was placed in assisted living.

This is not to imply that this is a therapy session staged—not at all. It is a laid-bare life, thoroughly lived, that everyone can relate to.

My Mother Had Two Faces was written and performed by Karen Trachtenberg and directed by and developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.

United Solo Festival Running Through April 28th at Theatre Row 410 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Before the Drugs Kick In, The Effect, Dead OutlawBliss Street at City WineryThe ClubThe Ally at the Public TheaterJelly’s Last JamThe Maid and the MezmerizerSeven Year Disappear, Until Dark, and This is Not a Time of Peace.

My Mother Had Two Faces


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