Lauren Weedman
Lauren Weedman
Not to be confused with the Harold Pinter play of almost exactly the same title, Homecoming is comedian Lauren Weedman's one-woman show, now playing on Monday nights at the Westside Theatre. In it, a performer best known as a correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show tells the story of her childhood as an adoptee who, with the help of her adopted parents, goes in search of her birth mother.

In her bio, Weedman thanks "all 3 of my families--the birthin' ones and the main one." That bio attests to the fact that this is a true story, both heartfelt and hilarious. Weedman skillfully inhabits the personalities of her adopted family members and other people that she meets along the way; chief among them are her adoptive mother, Sharon, and her older sister, Lisa. They're a funny pair, the former unintentionally insensitive at times but always well-meaning, the latter a high-strung, valley girl type. Weedman conjures them with precision, bite, and most of all, affection; theatergoers who are now or once were part of the suburban middle class will likely find these characters similar to members of their own family. Sadly, Weedman's best recreation--her eccentric, adopted grandmother--makes but one appearance, at the beginning of the play.

Weedman's appearances as Lauren, her adolescent self, are flashes of normalcy in this ménage. Lauren's low-key demeanor and muted teen angst make her stand out among the more colorful personalities of her adopted family, but not so much that she doesn't seem to belong. She's just the normal one, that's all. Every family has one.

Most of Homecoming takes place after Lauren, as a teenager, realizes that she wants to get a look at her birth mother. Just a photo will do, but she discovers that even this is hard to come by, since the adoption agency cannot give out any information. What follows is a search through the phone book, support groups, and "underground" mother-finding collectives. We eventually realize that this lengthy and frustrating process isn't about Lauren's birth mother so much as it is about her relationship with her adoptive mother. Sharon initially reacts callously to Lauren's questions about her real mom but, when she discovers how much it means to her, she makes it her mission to find the woman.

Homecoming has no set to speak of (except for the pink ribboned backdrop from the theater's regular tenant, The Vagina Monologues), but none is necessary, given Weedman's magnetic presence. She becomes perhaps a little more boisterous than necessary during solo dance breaks between the vignettes that make up her story, but her enthusiasm brings the characters alive. This is an extremely funny piece, and though Weedman gains plenty of laughs at the expense of her family's quirks, she has a way of reminding us how lucky we all are to have our own families, whatever their foibles.