Motherlock opens with the assertion that a mother is a woman who has conceived, carried and delivered a child, something that will irritate any adoptive, lesbian or surrogacy mothers in the audience. Ostensibly concerning itself with a woman’s quest for identity, Motherlock, by Melissa Fergusson, is a narration of the events in a woman’s life throughout her years of begetting. The play concludes with the repetition of the opening lines but sadly, nothing in between does much to deeply explore how a woman's self-actualisation plays out, a subject surely of interest to most women, mothers or not. More like a spoken memoir or a series of diary events, Motherlock is all angst and no art. It ignores the golden ‘show, don’t tell’ rule, which can be done if language becomes the considered focus of the piece, but this is not the case here.
The performance by Virginia Frankovich is spirited and passionate but so little of the monologue is directed at the audience that the disengaging effect of the first person, past tense narration is intensified. Theatrical devices like the character changing her clothes on stage and delivering her lines into a mirror are there to signpost internal changes but somehow fail to connect, possibly because the unnamed character is so devoid of insight or self-awareness that she is hard to identify with; at first I thought she was an ironic creation but unfortunately, no. The most interesting part about Motherlock is what is not said; the psychology of the character’s journey is left unexpressed, and this is where the piece could become interesting if it were there as subtext. Tales of woe are only as intriguing as what is made of them. We all have our stories: to make them page or stage worthy, especially in monologue, they need to be disembowelled, ruthlessly examined, stretched and spun until only the DNA of verisimilitude is left. But with Motherlock we just have events, baldly presented, and we are left with little clue as to what the character might make of herself by the end.
Written and Directed by Melissa Fergusson
Part of the 2010 Melbourne Fringe Festival
Venue: Cabaret Voltaire | 14 Raglan Street, North Melbourne
Dates: Sep 28 – Oct 2, 2010
Time: 7.00pm (45min)
Tickets: Full Price: $ 25.00, Concession: $ 20.00