Thursday, 10 May 2007

Mommie and the Minister by Sisters Grimm, May 10, 2007

Mommie and the Minister by Ash Flanders and Declan Greene
By Sisters Grimm
At La Mama,  May 10 to 20, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 10, 2007

Mommie and the Minister, by Ash Flanders and Declan Greene, is a genuinely outrageous and hilarious short play. 

It has overtones of John Waters high camp movies, Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and the absurdism of Eugene Ionesco.

Edmund (Flanders) and Harriet Lovely (Gillian Perry) spend their days in the basement of their home playing hide and seek, training a rat circus or confiding in Kitty (Matt Hickey), a painting of a cat that talks only to Edmund. They have been locked in the cellar for twenty years since Mommie decided that they needed to learn to show her a little respect before she would introduce them to her friend, the Minister who visits daily for tea.

In fact, Mommie is simply a vindictive, brutal harridan who lies to, brutalises and starves her lovelies, keeping them obedient and terrified. When this cruel narrative is embedded in high campery, it becomes screamingly funny. The script is clever, cynical and dripping with irony.

Greene directs the show with a deft hand, maintaining a swift pace and dynamic rhythm. The performances by Flanders and Perry are delectable and casting a drag queen, Missfit/Gerard Williams, as Mommie is inspired.

Perry, a compelling clown, plays the dizzy, disturbed Harriet with wicked humour, superb timing and a face that changes in a nanosecond. Covered in filth and wearing a lacy child’s frock, she throws toddler tantrums and seduces her brother with her clumsy suggestive behaviour.

Flanders gives the insipid Edmund a Little Lord Fauntleroy tone. He cunningly balances Edmund’s complete idiocy with his burgeoning awareness of Mommie’s treachery. He minces around his basement, sullenly seeks privacy with his pal, Kitty, or attends meaningless appointments in the corner, by the bicycle wheel.

The “children” lick themselves clean, eat slops that Mommie provides, follow her rules, fear her temper and wait for her unlikely approval.

Missfit, dressed in various tailored women’s outfits, false eye lashes and sporting pancake laid on with a trowel, is truly grotesque. He plays Mommie with an edge of menace and a veneer of gentility that crumbles when her irrational rules are broken or when she is taken hostage by the children. Her final scene is almost Boris Karloff in style and teeters on the brink of Grand Guignol bloodiness.

Funny, funny, funny! Go see it.

By Kate Herbert

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