By Linda A. Carson, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard & Deborah Williams.
Performed by Alex Dallas, Louise Gauthier, Sharon Heldt, Ginette Mohr & Birgitte Solem.
Directed by Robin Nichol
Drayton Entertainment Production
Playhouse II, Grand Bend
July 10 to August 18, 2007
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Bring your Mom on a Girls’ Night Out
When six Vancouver women got together with their toddlers and babies in 1993 to write a show about motherhood, they didn’t pull any punches. The women, formerly glamorous professional actors, had become, by their own admission, exhausted, pathetic amateur mothers. So they put together a string of real-life vignettes about the trials of being a mother. And somehow it evolved into a five-character play, based on their anecdotes. (No explanation as to why the author named Barbara didn’t become a character in the play.)
Mom’s the Word has been staged across Canada and around the world, and has now spawned Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged – an update on the group as they deal with teenagers. The original version is now being staged at Playhouse II at Huron Country Playhouse near Grand Bend. The cast of five women, all newcomers to Drayton Entertainment, are being directed by one of the authors, Robin Nichol. So we assume that they are presenting the vignettes in a fashion true to their characters’ namesakes (the original authors’) intentions.
Alex Dallas as Deborah is delightful with her slightly British accent and delivery of humour. And yes, she’s the one who has to chase her toddler when he runs from the poolside change room. Louise Gauthier plays Linda, who writes notes to her “dear partner” and stresses about keeping communication open with her husband. Sharon Heldt has the challenge of playing the character Robin, while the real Robin (Robin Nichol) directs the show. She has some great lines among her anecdotes: “When I pass another stroller, we give each other the high sign, like two Harley riders passing on the open road,” she says. Ginette Mohr is Jill, the character that moves away from comedy when she relates the story of her baby being born prematurely. Her poignant portrayal of a new mother’s worry is very well done, and this touching story provides a moving change to the performance. Brigitte Solem as Allison has some very comedic lines, such as when she asks “How am I supposed to resume my sex life, when I’m wearing a nursing bra?”
The challenges of caring for active, smart toddlers is related in various ways in the vignettes. Deborah tells us that she finds it much easier to be a good mom in public. Another character says that she starts out each day as Mary Poppins, but ends up as Cruella DeVille.
They also talk about the feelings of guilt they have, with one mom saying that the family’s favourite thing to do is to spend time all together. But her favourite thing to do is spend some time all by myself. But of course, they aren’t’ feeling too guilty to take advantage of the situation. As Jill says, “Some mornings when I’m really desperate for more sleep, I lie to my husband about how many times I got up with the baby.”
This show offers realistic slices of life, easily recognizable by anyone who has given birth and raised a baby into a toddler. For the most part, the anecdotes are laugh-out-loud funny, but in a few places, I felt things went a little too far. The squirt-gun breasts and a bit of the male-bashing made me uncomfortable – but that’s alright. Everyone else was laughing uproariously, so maybe I was alone. One doesn’t go to live theatre just to be comfortable. So go see it, and decide for yourself.
Mom’s The Word continues with eight shows a week until August 18 at Playhouse II, next to Huron Country Playhouse, near Grand Bend. Tickets are available at the Huron Country Playhouse box office at (519) 238-6000 or Drayton Entertainment at 1-888-449-4463.