Thursday, 31 August 2006

Mum’s the Word 2: Teenagers, Aug 31, 2006

Mum’s the Word 2: Teenagers
Mum’s the Word Collective

 Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, from Aug 30 (no closing date)
Tues 6.30pm, Wed to at 8pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 4pm

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Identification theatre is the only way to describe Mum’s The Word 1 and 2 and to explain their success. 

The majority of the population either has, had, or will have teenage offspring and the rest knows someone who has them. The audience laughs and groans in unison at the familiarity of the horror stories about teens.

We sympathise with parents dealing with rudeness, drinking, drugs, sibling rivalry, lying and sneaking – you name it, teens do it and parents suffer it.

For this reason, all sorts of flaws in the structure, writing and direction of the show are ignored. There is limited physicalisation of the mainly monologue based stories. The show is like a washing line upon which loosely connected stories are threaded.

What makes this production is the exceptional cast. The five engaging and funny women (Marg Downey, Rebecca Gibney, Jane Hall, Colette Mann, Louise Siversen) hurl themselves bodily into the characters written by and based on the lives of the Canadian team.

Siversen’s is both sympathetic and hilarious, playing the mother who contemplates having an affair and a range of wacky character that highlight her versatility.

Mann, in her inimitable cheeky comic style, plays the naïve mum who hopes her daughter is celibate but gets about in sexy Madam Lash gear for dad.

Hall plays the mum who fears her daughter will turn into herself at age 12. Her scene buying her child her first bra is charming.

There are some more serious issues raised about parenting. Downey is convincing as the demure mum who faces the challenge of breast cancer and Gibney’s character battles to manage a drunken, out of control son.

As a group, the five manage to make goofy choreography and costumes look hilarious in Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend was Hot Like Me and Here Comes Menopause.

The stories are about the little successes and bigger failures of parenting, the pressure on relationships, the loss of identity of mothers and the constant abuse parents face at the hands of the monsters that have replaced their sweet little kids.

Much of the writing is predictable and sometimes pedestrian and the staging in unimaginative but this cast makes the show entertaining. If they cut half an hour out of the show, it could be a stronger piece.

By Kate Herbert

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