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‘High Risk, Baby!’

2021 June 13
by Susan Asher

Shelby Hofer has guts. Her one-woman show “High Risk, Baby!” follows her own life from a bossy tyke who told her dolls and friends exactly what to do to her current status as middle-aged mother.

As a child, Hofer loved babies and would lock eyes with them. She pretended to give birth to them as dolls would spew forth from her crotch. Her dream was to have a baby. As an adult, the years ticked by, and she had imaginary conversations with Oprah. Maybe babies weren’t all that necessary.

On stage, Hofer runs around jumping, leaping, and dancing, talking to and throwing her dolls, bringing back images of Gilda Radner as “The Judy Miller Show.” This is the child who takes Ritalin to treat her ADD.

This inquisitive child shares that she doesn’t understand the things she hears. She has no one to turn to to give her answers. She found in her home her parent’s copy of “The Joy of Sex,” but she needed help understanding the book. She’s heard about blow jobs and camel toes and calls upon audience members to help her understand their meaning.

As a child, Hofer mothered her baby brother and always wanted to be a mother, until she came of age. We see her in her early thirties as she constantly answers her mother’s phone calls reminding her that her eggs will be gone and she’s running out of time.

Now, at 35, it’s too late. She discovers she can’t get pregnant. But she wants a baby more than anything. We see her at age 37 travel to another continent and trust strangers from non-English speaking countries to tell her what she must do to have a baby.

Hofer is a “High Risk, Baby!”. She puts the mistakes of her life on the table for all of us to see and marvel at how she never gives up and finally finds what she has always been looking for.

Written by Shelby Hofer and directed by Ellen McQueen, “High Risk, Baby” was performed from May to June 12 and will be remounting in the fall at PushPush Arts. The theater, of which Hofer is a co-founder, helps artists explore new ideas and collaborate across the globe. See more at PushPush Arts.

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