When I got the invite for the opening night of Baby Mama: One Woman’s Quest to Give Her Child to Gay People, I admit that I immediately thought of the 2008 movie. In fact, every time I scrolled past it in my calendar I had to remind myself that I was not, in fact, going to see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on the big screen.
No, as you might imagine, Mariah MacCarthy’s version—a one-woman show written and performed based on her own real-life experience (under the direction of Sara Lyons)—presents a very different story indeed. MacCarthy, accidentally pregnant by a guy who’s no longer in the picture, makes the painful decision to give her baby up for adoption. Actually, painful is not quite the right word, because for MacCarthy it’s more a difficult weighing of options. Too broke to raise the baby herself, and too “Catholic,” as she puts it (even though she’s pro-choice) to have an abortion, adoption emerges as the best choice. Beyond that, she’s intent on giving the child to a gay couple.
She actually finds the perfect couple early on in the show, which leaves most of the 70 minutes to explore her complicated journey from conception to officially signing the papers. And what a journey it is. Funny at some points and gross at others (not entirely surprising given the main plotline involves pushing a tiny human out of a vagina), it is always raw, unapologetic, and incredibly honest. MacCarthy goes through the roller coaster of emotions you would expect to see from someone giving up something she grew inside of her. More unexpected though is the way she makes you think along the way. Perhaps most poignant of the insights she communicates is how alone she feels. While surrounded by friends who are relentless in their support, there aren’t many people who can actually relate to what she is going through. Because in this day and age, being a birth mother is a very uncommon occurrence.
MacCarthy herself does a wonderful job of telling the story she set out to tell. Even more than that, she makes it relatable to people of all walks of life while at the same time staying true to her unconventional ways. Indeed, this was certainly the first expectant mother story I’ve heard that involved kissing parties, orgies, and—well—let’s just say another use for breasts that has nothing to do with feeding an infant.
Overall, I found the show to be touching, heartfelt, and smart.
Baby Mama: One Woman’s Quest to Give Her Child to Gay People is running through January 29th at the IRT Theater, 154 Christopher Street. For more information and tickets, you can visit the theater website.
By: Reagan Daly, follow along with her NYC adventures here!