Sperman is Everysperm and Eggna is Everyegg and a little Spermegga is what happens when they party—at least if they’re your typical African American family. This is the bittersweet, reductionist premise of writer-performer Clarice Taylor’s solo show, Spermegga, produced by the New Federal Theatre.
We follow the life of the girl Spermegga from her unlikely appearance as a two-week-old talking litigant before a judge—she’s protesting the indignity of her birth—to her college days when she becomes an unwed knocked-up gal just like dear old mom. Along the way she learns about sex, welcomes her long-absent dad home from jail, becomes a third wheel instead of a cherished child in an idealized family, falls in love and is abandoned. If all this sounds simplistic, it is, though obviously well-intentioned and warmhearted. “I represent all the newborns in the world,” declares baby Spermegga, who pleads that the “owner of the sperm and egg” must care for them until they are grown. Taylor’s script has potential moments of pathos, but the silly names and preachy message work against the gritty realities she wants to deliver. The characters are stereotypes; most of the humor feels secondhand.
Taylor, a veteran theater actor best known to the public as Bill Cosby’s mom on The Cosby Show, plays all the parts, including the assorted fertilizing menfolk. Under Walter Dallas’s limp direction, Taylor occasionally sidles from side to side to switch roles. Voices, gestures, and expressions hardly vary. Whether a baby, a judge, or a tough ex-con, she sounds and looks like . . . well, a kindly grandma whose range of emotion never rises above genial or a shade below “Oh, dear.”