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Staceyann Chin had a tough upbringing in Jamaica, and the hostility—and assault—she encountered as a young gay woman was enough to drive her from the country. She fled north and built a career as a poet and performance artist, a game that’s the opposite of lucrative. But she’d always wanted kids, or at least one—“A radical feminist ninja messiah to unleash upon the patriarchy,” as she puts it in Motherstruck, her sublime 85-minute-monologue about a mommydom devoutly wished and pursued. Only it’s not so easy to get knocked up when you’re gay, (mostly) single, broke, and pushing 40 in a Brooklyn that’s quickly pricing you out. Or to stay sane once you’re exhausted, facing eviction, and (mild spoiler) the single parent of an infant.
The fast-paced show covers her quest to become pregnant over her body’s objections (“a mug seemed too daunting,” she says, scanning her cupboard for a vessel to give her waiting sperm donor), the 22 hours of labor during which she abjured her Indigo Girls/Tracy Chapman/Sarah McLachlan-packed iPod to howl the refrain of an Eminem song, and the location of the mother she barely knew. Chin, resplendent in her red mohawk and a totem pole of tattoos down her back (the one visible over her tank top says “XX CHROMOSOME”), and a ball of highly compressed energy, scampering around Kristen Robinson’s totemic curved set throughout the evening.
Only the use of a few predictable song cues to underscore jokes (slightly) mars a performance that rings out with humanity, humor, and defiance. Earth need more moms like Chin.
At Studio Theatre to Oct. 23. 1501 14th St. NW. $20-$55. (202) 332-3300. Studiotheatre.org.