This One

Missing your Mom

Denise Mader, in her one-woman show now on stage at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre, moves us from hilarious silliness to overwhelming sadness, and then brings us around to foreseeing her happy future.  It’s an autobiographical story, where Mader talks to the audience as if we were friends sitting at her kitchen table.  In fact, we are guests who have arrived early for her four-year-old niece’s birthday party.

In act one, we’re welcomed into Denise’s apartment.  She is harried, trying to get ready for the party.  In fact, at times she is too frenzied, too loud and it’s unsettling.  The cake is already prepared, but now she is trying to bake a pie — she finds her mom’s old cook book, and there on the page for pecan pie, it’s marked “This One”.  When she drops her last egg, she has to rush out and buy more, so she asks patrons in the front row to blow up a few balloons during intermission.

This One 1In act two, she settles down, following her mom’s recipe for the pie.  And then you realize that all her references to her mother are in the past tense.  In a heartbreaking moment, you hear about her mother’s death – a tragedy to lose one’s mother at the young age of 18, with four younger brothers at home. Her telling of the story brings tears to the eyes of anyone listening.  But she carries on; she builds an entire pie – dough, crust, filling — all with real ingredients.  That egg she smashes is not a stage prop, but the real thing.  In the end, the pie goes into the oven, and we are left wondering if the crew will enjoy it with her later on.  Let’s hope all those ingredients don’t go to waste!

This One is a well-written, well-acted production.  The monologue is sprinkled with clever turns of phrase, such as “There’s another day gone and look where you aren’t.”  Mader is wonderful about sharing her funny anecdotes on growing up, and then also revealing her heartbreak at her mother’s death.  Credit goes to director Melee Hutton for the right pacing to contrast the laughs and the tears.

The original twenty-five minute version of This One was performed as part of the 2013 Hamilton Fringe Festival. Then, a one-act version was presented in Toronto in December 2014.  Mader has since expanded the show to its current full length, and Port Stanley Festival Theatre is offering this world premiere.

It’s a wonderful story – a great afternoon for mothers and daughters.  Or anyone who’s lost a mom, if your heart can take it, I think you’d enjoy commiserating with Denise Mader.

This One continues at Port Stanley Festival Theatre until August 13.  Call the box office at 519-782-4353 or 1-855-782-4353 for tickets or visit

Photo: Denise Mader starring as herself in This One.  Photo by MG.

This One
Written & Performed by Denise Mader
Directed by Melee Hutton
Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Port Stanley
July 27 to August 13, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson



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