By the Mom's the Word Collective: Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard, and Deborah Williams. Directed by Roy Surette. An Arts Club Theatre Company production. At the Granville Island Stage until November 19
Nothing works like honesty. And few things are funnier-or more painful-than the truth. It's one thing to speak your own truth, mind you, and quite another to publicly disclose the intimate details of your teenage kids' and your husbands' lives. The creators of Mom's the Word 2: Unhinged dare to do it all.
The first Mom's the Word premiered at the Women in VIEW Festival in 1993. In that piece, the six female theatre professionals who wrote and originally performed it address the thrills and fears they experienced as new mothers. The show is so charming that it has gone on to become an international hit and is probably responsible for thousands of pregnancies worldwide. In Mom's the Word 2, five of the authors return to explore what it's like to be the parents of teens. The wit and forthrightness that made the original so winning also saturate the sequel.
Deborah Williams is a particularly gifted comic writer. She talks about "falling in love so hard it hurt my hips", and in the wake of a parenting mistake, she comforts herself with the knowledge that "I will only feel this bad about what I have done until I do something worse."
Jill Daum can also be wickedly self-revealing. She's freaked out because she knows what a terror she was in her own adolescence. She wants to trust her son, she says, but "the coke-snorting, shoplifting slut from my past won't let me."
Other bits, including an uninspired dance sequence, feel corny. And the script loses focus. Of the three overarching story lines, only about one-and-a-half feel vitally connected to mothering. Alison Kelly bravely tackles the issue of drug use. She and her husband tossed their son out of the house after he stole and wrecked the neighbours' car-possibly while he was stoned. Susinn McFarlen, the only actor in this production who is not also one of the writers, tells author Robin Nichol's story of surviving breast cancer. The kids are important to this tale, but not central. And Deborah Williams's account of her flirtation with infidelity is compelling, but her children have almost nothing to do with it.
I daresay that most people won't care about structural deficiencies, though. Pam Johnson's set-a wall of storage that produces a bathtub and a fridge among other surprises-is fun, and every one of the performers is warmly engaging. Their willingness to reveal their failings often makes the show moving. Just wait till Daum tells you about struggling to buy the right bra for her daughter. I'll carry that gem with me for a long time.