Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Motherhood: What a Bitch! and Big Fat Mess of a Lady
Fusion Theatre / The Box Annex
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Two seasoned performers from the Albuquerque theatre scene present original one-person shows written by, about, and performed by them.

Eighty-eight year old Carolyn Meyer is a born storyteller. She has been a writer all her life. She has written more than 60 books, and is known for her works of historical fiction for young readers. In 2016, after the death of her husband, University of New Mexico Professor E.A. "Tony" Mares, Meyer started taking improvisation classes at The Box performance space in Albuquerque. Through her work there, she developed performing skills and began to take her act on the road.

Meyer reinvented herself as a successful comedian, solo performer, humorist, and storyteller. Motherhood: What a Bitch! Written is her third show (her first two were Don't Call Me Young Lady and The Old White Lady Tells it All: The Making, and Unmaking of a Racist). Carolyn is also a regular on The Moth Radio Hour, providing selections from her works in a dozen cities from London to Honolulu. The three shows form a trilogy of Carolyn's life as a unique individual who definitely goes her own way.

Motherhood: What a Bitch! is her most serious and revealing show. Carolyn has never been afraid to reveal herself, but with this latest entry her punchlines are a little softer. This is a piece that is more poignant. All mothers will identify with the questions she ponders.

At The Cell for Fusion Theatre, Motherhood is directed by Barry Simon, who directed her other two shows and keeps Carolyn focused. The set is two seating areas, which allows for a variety of movement. At the opening performance, Carolyn was still settling into the show, finding her rhythm. This is a performance not to be missed.

Immunocompromised, Jen Stephenson wrote Big Fat Mess of a Lady in order to find a way to perform. This is the solo show she wrote when she realized she had not been on stage for three years. Stephenson has been acting on Albuquerque stages since the age of six, in more than 80 New Mexico productions. She spent nearly a decade working with Mother Road Theatre Productions.

This original one-person show is a journey through talk therapy, monologues and original songs in a portrait of love, sobriety, transition and survival. The play includes a conversation between Stephenson and an AI therapist, who sounds just like Stephenson. She sings her own songs accompanying herself on the guitar. Her singing and playing is excellent. The play is about her own history of substance abuse and recovery. It is about her mother and father, who is trans and came out when she was 17.

It is a hilarious and devastating baring of the soul in a tight one hour performance. Jen Stephenson is an engaging performer with fine acting skills. This approach might seem, at first, to be very indulgent, but in performance it is honest, forthright and fun. Although this run of the play has ended, you can catch it on YouTube, see link below.

Motherhood: What a Bitch! runs through May 12, 2024, at the Fusion Theatre, The Cell, 700 1st St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are on Sundays only. General Admission: $20. For tickets and information, please call 505-766.9412 or visit

Directed by Barry Simon. Conceived, written and performed by Carolyn Meyer. Big Fat Mess of a Lady An Original Piece by Jen Stephenson Box Annex Performance Space

Big Fat Mess of a Lady ran April 19-27, 2024, at the Box Annex, 100 Gold Ave SE, Albuquerque NM.

Conceived, written and performed by Jen Stephenson. See the show on YouTube.