The original Mum’s the Word, which was written by five Canadian actors, who were all mothers, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard and Deborah Williams, dealt with the trials of new motherhood. It instantly resonated with mothers of babies, was a runaway success and toured for years. They have joined forces once again for this sequel.
Mum’s the Word 2: Teenagers replicates the original formula: a series of comic skits dealing with having children as well as identity issues that arise as a consequence of motherhood. Comedy with a heart felt twist.
Like its predecessor, this show will resonate with mothers, this time of teenagers. It is brimming with jokes both about adolescent surliness, embarrassment and narcissism as well as jokes about the failing eyesight, bodies and marriages of middle aged women.
The strong cast: Tracy Bartram, Katrina Foster, Jean Kittson, Victoria Nicolls and Louise Siversen, really work the material. Louise Siversen is the stand out. Her drill sergeant routine, training her cadets how to deal with the teenage enemy is fabulous, as was her prayer routine. She is strong, funny and dynamic.
While Jean Kitson is a natural clown, very much in the Jonathan Biggins mold: funny faces, silly walks and underpants hoisted under her arms, she also projects a marvelous frailty which is well developed in the second act.
Tracy Bartram has a very strong stage presence and her maternal naiveté is completely charming.
All the actors give uniformly big performances. I am not sure whether director, Kaarin Fairfax, thought the audience wouldn’t understand if the performers didn’t attach gestures to their dialogue, or maybe Fairfax has a penchant for mime. Whatever the reason, it felt as though the performers didn’t have complete faith in their material and so often over worked it.
Mum’s the Word 2: Teenagers would benefit from judicious editing. While all of the skits are charming, they do not work equally well nor are they all equal in developing the story. The family hike is a good example of this. At two hours fifteen plus interval it is a very long show. They could probably lose the less funny of the dance sequences, for instance, without the show suffering at all.
The second half is much stronger than the first. It changes from seemingly being a series of unrelated skits to the each of the performers developing their characters and individual stories. Whilst still very funny, Act Two deals more with the poignant unraveling of relationships and health as the women enter middle age.
Mum’s the Word 2: Teenagers is a funny show with a lot of heart. It speaks to a very specific audience and will no doubt become the smashing success of the first. And so it should for there are not many plays that sees the humour in households dealing with the confluence of menopause and raging adolescent hormones.
Mums The Word 2: Teenagers!
Venue: Theatre Royal
Opens: Thursday May 29 8pm
Times: Tues @ 7pm; Wed - Sat @ 8pm
Matinees: Wed @ 1pm; Sat @ 2pm & Sun @ 3pm
Bookings: Ticketek phone 1300 795 012 or online at www.ticketek.com
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