OOOPS! I Killed My Mother
nytheatre.com review by Robert Kent
August 15, 2004
Before Oops! I Killed My Mother starts, writer/performer Ruth Otero makes the surprising announcement that she will not perform her matricidal comedy. "It is not life affirming or spiritually transformative," Otero claims. Instead, the bubbly, appealing Latina comedienne plans to premiere a more positive work entitled "I Opened Up My Heart and There Was Room for Me: A Show About Healing." After offering a reminder to turn off cell phones, Otero steps backstage to "pray" and prepare the new piece.
Once she disappears, two latecomers enter the theater: Otero's lethargic older sister Wilma and murder-inducing mother Consuelo, who immediately redecorates the set with sparkling garland and old movie posters. Initially unaware of the revised set, Otero returns to sing an energetic rendition of Jimmy Cliff's "I Can See Clearly Now" that spirals into a mental breakdown once she notices the changes and realizes that "Mother" is in the house. Otero instantly abandons her plan to perform "I Opened Up My Heart and There Was Room for Me: A Show About Healing" and does "Oops! I Killed My Mother" instead. Otero should have stuck with her gut and gone with the show about healing.
Throughout the remainder of the hour-long Oops! Otero recalls life with a maddeningly neurotic mother who makes her daughters wear oversized, bargain-priced slacks; embarrasses the family at the grocery store; and refuses to accept Ruth's showbiz lifestyle. "[Mother believes that] I'm a puta because I have boyfriend and do community theatre!" the actress reveals. It's a standard tale of familial dysfunction. Furthermore, Otero is not the first actress be at odds with mom. She follows Carrie Fisher (Postcards from the Edge), Lisa Kron (Well) and others in the fine art of mother-baiting. Functionally directed by Craig Carlisle, Otero's mildly amusing Oops! I Killed My Mother brings nothing new to the "blame Mom for my failures" genre. While Otero skillfully portrays her sister and feisty mother, her writing never escalates beyond its therapy-turned-solo-show formula. And for that, Otero has no one to blame but herself.