Roger Kumble's new seriocomedy sets out to debunk that famous feminist promise that women can have it all the career, the family and their sanity. As lights go up on a beached Brooke Shields, a milk pump attached to each breast, Kumble softens up his audience with broad comic strokes and entertainment industry in-jokes. He even pokes fun at racism before settling in to a serious examination of four power moms in Brentwood, and the dilemmas they face. As mother of three Lori, Shields shows up in a pink hoodie and Uggs, but pretty soon sky-high wedge heels and hefty designer handbags take over the stage (costumes by Ann Closs-Farley). She slobs about the solid, trilevel set (design by Tom Buderwitz) as the other, more pretentious moms arrive. Meanwhile Lori's former writing partner, Claire (Constance Zimmer), wants to lure her back to the cutthroat world of TV with an irresistible opportunity a meeting with Oprah herself. But what about Lori's commitments to her eldest kid's preschool fundraiser? Eileen Galindo is underused as Lori's uncomprehending temp nanny. Andrea Bendewald is magnificent as alpha mom Jane, especially when she unleashes her vicious tongue, completely annihilating Scarlett (Nicole Paggi), the needy Southern mom who is trying so hard to be Jewish ("Holla for challa!"). But Jane gets her comeuppance, courtesy of Claire, a fearless non-mom. This play is full of squabbly little victories, some distasteful, some victorious. It concludes abruptly on a cliffhanger, but by then Kumble has well and truly made his point. Lee Strasberg Institute, Marilyn Monroe Theatre, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m., thru April 24. (800) 595-4849, tix.com.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: March 18. Continues through May 7, 2011