Mom’s the Word: Remixed displays wit, warmth, and naked honesty
By Linda Carson, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard, and Deborah Williams. Directed by Wayne Harrison. An Arts Club Theatre Company production. At the Granville Island Stage on Friday, October 2. Continues until November 7
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. Your heart will be full. No wonder the first two shows in this semiautobiographical series have become international hits.
Watch the trailer for Mom's the Word: Remixed.
Mom’s the Word: Remixed combines material from 1993’s Mom’s the Word, which explores new motherhood, and its follow-up, Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged, which follows the same mother-child relationships into the teen years.
The secret to the success of all three installments is their combination of wit, warmth, and naked honesty. Four of the writers also perform in this production, and they bring wonderfully varied textures to the piece.
With her deadpan intensity, Deborah Williams is a stunner. In a voice sharpened on the whetstones of duty and fury, she says you can be sure post-birth bliss is over when you look at your child “and the word asshole comes to mind”. Williams has also come up with some great, audience-engaging conventions, including a boot camp for the mothers of teenagers in which she assumes the role of drill sergeant.
In contrast to Williams’s hard edge, Alison Kelly is charmingly baffled in her comic contributions. “I know what an offside is,” she says as she watches her kid play hockey. “It just happens so fast I can’t see it.” And her unsentimental account of her son’s premature birth is gut-wrenchingly moving.
Barbara Pollard isn’t afraid of sentiment. Her pieces are unabashedly endearing—even when one of them includes a reference to a tidal wave of baby poo. (You’ll understand when you see the show.) Jill Daum’s work feels urgently physical and immediate as she relives her labour and then, much later, the tenderness she feels when buying her daughter her first bras.
That’s the great thing about this play: it dives right into the love, the trouble, and the bodily fluids that are part of parenting—the snot and the puke and the whining and the lack of sleep and sex. This is the real deal. These are insider accounts that include marriages in trouble and a kid getting arrested. You don’t have to be a parent to appreciate any of this, but it helps if you like kids.
Susan Bertoia delivers material that was written by Robin Nichol. When she performed in the first show, Nichol brought a leavening butchness. Bertoia’s style is more ebullient, but it works fine. Pam Johnson’s set, with its towering shelves in orange, aqua, and lime green was originally used in Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged. It’s still gorgeous.