Wednesday, 10 June 2015

From Here to Maternity, June 10, 2015 **1/2

By Mikhaela Bourke and Lana Meltzer, co-writer Elise Hearst
Theatre Works from June 10 to 14, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: **1/2
Review also in Herald Sun in print and online on Fri June 12. 2015.  KH
 Lana Meltzer & Mikhaela Bourke

Mums and their bubs provide great mileage for light drama or sketch comedy because so many people recognise the chaos, exhaustion, obsession and hilarity of early parenting.

From Here to Maternity, created and performed by Mikhaela Bourke and Lana Meltzer with additional writing by Elise Hearst, is a series of short, comic and dramatic scenes ranging from heartfelt monologues to satirical sketches.

This is Identification Theatre that reflects the experiences of not only newly minted parents, but also anyone who has had babies, knows people with babies, or sat in a cafe near mothers with cute or crying babies.

Both performers are warm and engaging and some sketches really tickle the audience, but Eli Erez’s production looks and sounds like a university revue and the quality of direction, performance and writing is equally uneven.

Strangely, the unpolished style sometimes adds to the enjoyment of the vignettes such as in the dialogue where two new mums – a competitive boaster (Meltzer) and her harried friend (Bourke) – compare their babies’ development. Guess whose baby is perfect in every way!

In a parody  of a TV game show, the Super-Mum carry-over champion (Meltzer) knows the right answer to every baby dilemma and drives her fraught competitor (Bourke) to despair that she is a bad mummy.

Several sketches depict two mummies trying to have a ‘normal’ conversation that either deteriorates into babbling baby talk directed into their prams or into the disconnected ramblings of two women suffering sleep deprivation.

One earnest monologue describes the peace and joy of pregnancy and preparing for birth while others reveal the trauma of being unable to conceive or suffering post-natal depression.

A succession of video sketches satirises the peculiar compulsion of some parents to rescue the placenta and do weird things with it. It’s a bit icky, really.

A couple of scenes incorporate abstract movement that makes them look like a school drama exercise and detracts from the impact of the themes.

There are some clever audio-visual projections (Piper Huyn) but the set design needs some development.

The show resembles the Canadian hit production, Mum’s the Word, and shares some of the shambolic charm, silliness and earnestness of that very successful show.

Despite its considerable theatrical shortcomings, From Here to Maternity is light-hearted and diverting for those that identify with its themes of new parents and their babies.

By Kate Herbert

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