But as a certified mother of daughters, Tolan creates a snapshot in which the emotions are in sharper focus than the ideas Katia and Maggie, a former dancer/choreographer turned office worker, try on. Of course, Katia being a kid, she’s in deadly earnest about her assertions, no matter how jumbled or conflicting. Maggie, carrying on a droll dialogue with Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer (whose tome is on the table declaring pie crust “the passport to matrimony),” is more tongue-in-cheek. What’s good about this production is that each character gives as good as she gets — in both feistiness and soulfulness. Scurria’s acerb Maggie is not all warmth and doormat devotion, and Flood balances her exquisitely realized, age-appropriate obnoxiousness with an almost bereft identity insecurity no amount of mothering can soothe. At the same time, there is great physical ease and intimacy between the two, whether they’re rolling around the kitchen floor or taking the gloves off.
Still, Memory House feels studied — a bit like a paint-by-numbers daubing its way toward an inevitable reconciliation. As certainly as we know that the slapped-together pie, exuding aroma as it bakes, will come out of the oven at the end, we know that we will hear that college essay and that it, like the pie, will be imperfect but forgiving.
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