There are times when the universe grabs you and says, “Girl, you need to make a change.” Clarinda Ross’s solo performance Spit Like a Big Girl is a memoir of a life full of such changes, and of the soul-grabbing moments that make them necessary. Although she plays herself most of the time, Ross portrays two other characters particularly well-her father and her mentally disabled daughter, Clara. Together, these two figures are the ones who have most affected Ross’s life, and thus they are the focus of the show.
Ross begins by telling a story about a recent accident. She was driving to her grandparents’ house with Clara and she crashed, yet somehow she managed to inch the remains of the car all the way to the house. Then, quickly leaving this particularly ominous moment, Ross turns to cheerfully remembering her childhood in Georgia. She gives us a family portrait-her elegant mother, her father (“the first dependable man” in her life), and her younger brother Tyler. Through praising her father, Ross expresses the values she was raised with and how these consequently influenced her future, as we see in the second act. Ross is especially assertive about the fact that her parents gave her a sense of the power of art and culture. As her father claims, “There’s nothing more dangerous than an intellectual redneck.”
The second act introduces the audience to an older Clarinda Ross, one who is dressed more formally, with her red hair done up and sporting suit pants. She is a mother now-a “warrior mommy.” Her father has passed away, her marriage is deteriorating, and she spends her days juggling between yelling at doctors’ receptionists and keeping her acting job. Ross struggles but prevails through “repetitiveness, consistency, and will.” Religiously adhering to this trio, Ross raises Clara, and, in a “happily ever after” ending, Ross closes by reminiscing about her father who, though he died too soon, seems to have followed Clarinda and Clara on their journey.
Spit Like a Big Girl, named for the painstaking task of making Clara brush her teeth, is an adorable play about one woman’s survival as she takes on different life roles-daughter, wife, lover, and mother. The amazing job Ross does playing different characters in the play seems meant to show just how well she mastered all these roles in reality.