Review: Erma Bombeck: at wit’s end

by Jody Key – Managing Editor

March 31, 2019

I remember growing up in Colorado Springs in the 1970s. My mom was a military wife and mother of 5 girls. She and her friends, the neighborhood housewives across the street, had what today would be considered a book club, and they loved to read Erma Bombeck. As a kid I loved the titles and colorful jacket designs of books such as If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? and The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, and as I grew I remember reading the latter and finding it very amusing.

Image result for books by erma bombeck

Bombeck’s satirical writing style and bi-weekly syndicated column resonated with suburban housewives of the 1960s and 1970s. Her words helped desperate housewives survive the day-to-day drudge of their thankless vocations. It’s no wonder that the Studio at Aurora Theatre’s offering ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END has been playing to sell out crowds.

This one-woman show based on the life and career of Bombeck is carried onstage by Lane Carlock. Lane has an impressive resume having the “privilege of writing and producing content, being a voice-over artist, and performing on screen and on stage for the past 30 years. ” Her experience and expertise are exquisitely on display as Erma. Set in Bombeck’s suburban home, we her her relate the story of her life and career as she bids her family farewell in the morning, folds and irons laundry, and vacuums with a circa 1970s Kirby upright (they don’t make them like that anymore–those things would suck the hair off a cat), among other chores. Aside from her talent as an actress, I have a feeling Lane understands the duties and drudgery that can occur as a wife and mother, as she’s been married over 20 years to radio personality Clark Howard and has 3 children of her own. Overall, Carlock puts in an authentic performance that is a Key-noteworthy delight if you’re fortunate enough to get tickets.

Lane Carlock as Erma Bombeck

Kudos also go to Playwrights Allison and Margaret Engel. What many people might not remember is while Erma Bombeck kept things light for America’s Housewives, she was also a staunch supporter of the ERA and was appointed to the President’s National Advisory Council for Women in 1978. “It surprised a lot of people when Erma Bombeck, voice of the American housewife, came out in support of the ERA. But Erma saw no conflict. Discrimination of any kind had always angered her.” (https://ermabombeckcollection.com/life/political-involvement/) This wasn’t information I remembered as a 12 year-old and it was an eye opener in respect to the relevance as the content of her message in this production speaks to today as women continue to work for equal rights 30 years later.

If Erma Bombeck were alive today, I think she would approve of ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END, as it pays honorable tribute to her life and work. As it is, I think she’s probably smiling from the great beyond. Her spirit certainly lives on in this performance, which plays at Aurora until April 14th. Enter our Speakeysie Ticket Giveaway today on Facebook for a chance to win 2 tickets!

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