By Lynn Venhaus

Myah L. Gary has something to say – about female friendships, health woes and relationships. Her original play, “Feminine Energy,” celebrates the faith, hope and love between friends and what women go through in life regarding their reproductive cycles.

Everyone’s journey is both private and universal, and sharing honesty about pregnancy, childbirth and different stages in life is something that Gary has tapped into with sensitivity and realism.

This positive jolt of empowerment is currently running at the Mustard Seed Theatre on Fontbonne University’s campus Thursdays through Sundays now through Feb. 19. The former thriving company has re-emerged to stage this relatable work.

Directed by Jacqueline Thompson with a warmth and assuredness, she was an early champion of this work, which received a reading at the St Louis Shakespeare Festival’s Confluence Regional Writers Project.

Realizing what an unpolished gem she was part of, she enlisted theater colleagues who helped complete this project.

Affected by polycystic ovary syndrome, Gary followed the adage “write what you know.” She does so with a knowledge about human behavior that is able to connect to others.

Currently a doctoral candidate at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, she is committed to awareness about public health education.  

Photo by Jon Abbott

The staging in two acts has an authenticity because a powerhouse cast is comfortable manuevering through home and work settings, designed by Patrice Nelms.

Erin Rene Roberts – so good to see her back on stage here – plays Dr. Soleil Kirkpatrick, a confident therapist whose issues with endometriosis is interrupting her life. Single, she is seriously debating a hysterectomy to relieve her pain, and if she wants children. She is open to adoption later.

Bubbly Ricki Franklin is well-suited to play a woman whose infertility issues are also disrupting her life. As  Monique Thomas, she is married and works as a midwife. She and her loving husband are talking to treatment specialists, but nothing has worked. She is not defeated, but weary.

Both the women’s stories are relatable to a wide range of women, as is our third storyline.

Andrea Purnell is empathetic as Debra Jackson, a married mother of three who has ovarian cancer, Stage 2. Her journey includes her family and a rocky relationship with her self-absorbed husband and her critical mother.

The supporting cast includes performers playing multiple roles. Michelle Dillard portrays the mothers of each woman, and Joshua Mayfield handles the husband/date roles.

Claire Louis Monarch plays a couple doctors and a very self-centered pregnant woman.

The live-wire Rae Davis plays five roles, including Debra’s vlogging influence daughter Jasmine and Dr. Kirkpatrick’s employee.

They all add to these vibrant portraits. The three leads are so relatable that you are glad to spend time learning about their lives and loves.

The feelings explored help create further dialogue and discussion on women’s health issues, and hopefully will have a long life beyond Mustard Seed’s initial staging.

Mustard Seed Theatre presents “Feminine Energy” Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through Feb. 19 at Fontbonne University, 6800 Wydown.

Photo by Jon Abbott
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