The opening night was full and from where I was sitting the audience reactions were intense in nature, laughing at jokes, leaning forward when things on stage got heated and outright revulsion at certain times, which were intended and absolutely hit their mark.
The show starts with an interpretative representation of our Mother: the planet Earth (Finn McCauley). I was highly impressed with the lighting and sound for the start of this piece, they accompanied the opening speech perfectly. The sound and lighting designers, James Dunlop and Tony Black, respectively, should be commended for their unobtrusive, yet captivating work. The narrative spoke of Earth in her time of ice and cold, the bare bones of a planet, and this was accompanied by musculature imagery. A signifier of Earth, which from where I was sitting at least, hauntingly shadowed itself into the form of a skull; a touch of foreshadowing the potential future that the performance is constantly warning us about.
Moving on from this is an interplay between various characters all with differing stories, each illuminating aspects of the difficulties facing us today. From gender equality, to racism, the rising gap of have’s and have-not’s to political corruption. Some of the issues raised are tongue-in-cheek, but then they cleverly segue in order to address a larger issue. For example, the pervasive Internet rumour that New Zealanders cannot have a garden without a license is twisted into a skewering of the dairy industry and its rampant degradation of the environment, even though we rely on it for our economy.
In between these segments, the Mother Earth figure stalks the stage, now encumbered by paper and plastic all about her. Stumbling and limping, hunched over and barely recognisable as her former self. The constant rustling of the rubbish surrounding her acts as an apt reminder of the white noise we harbour around World Issues, the capitalisation meaning as a singular person, we are helpless to stop them. McCauley’s performance shines here, doing a brilliant job at conveying the story through movement alone and I really enjoyed these moments that represent the bigger picture, we are watching individual stories, but collectively these issues span the globe over.
One of my favourite parts of this performance was the trio who made up the news show. Unfortunately, I am unable to fully credit the actors as the programme only listed those involved, but not specific characters. However, the three were ridiculous, absurd, over-the-top and all in the best ways possible. They start out relatively sane and escalate their freneticism as the show goes on. Their lightning-fast dialogue was especially impressive and begins as if it might really be from a daytime newscast, but slowly the inappropriateness starts to shine and rhyme. This doubly served to highlight how pathetic it appears to keep ignoring these problems as they get worse and also to show, at one point visually, that they can keep vomiting words at a captive audience who choose to swallow it rather than explore what else could be done. All three did a fantastic job and I loved the change from structured narrative to syllabic rhyming. I would interpret the rhyming to represent how the news is intended to be sold and as easy as possible to consume, all the better to remember, my dear. Wolf’s teeth and all.
This show is provoking, the rhetoric is surprising and intriguing and the performers are engaging. The music and lighting are subtle and excellent. I may be biased because I believe in the message they convey, I still however, encourage others to go and either challenge your beliefs or reinforce them. MOM will be something that sticks with you and will give you a lot of excellent talking points to bring up with friends.
MOM – MEET OUR MUM is playing at BATS theatre from the 9th- 13th of August and tickets can be found at the BATS website: https://bats.co.nz/whats-on/mom-meet-our-mum/ or at the theatre.