Thursday 23 August 2018

Mothermorphosis - Theatre Review

What: Mothermorphosis
When: 22 August - 2 September 2018
Where: La Mama - Trades Hall
Written and performed by: Liz Skitch
Directed by: Maude Davey
Set by: Lara Week
Lighting by: Richard Vabre
Sound by: Chris Wenn
Stage Managed by: Brittany Coombs
Liz Skitch
Slowly but surely the world is scratching and clawing its way to honesty and every day women are making progress towards being able to speak their truth - which is not always roses, birthday cakes, and talcum powder. Sometimes it is, but the roses lose their petals, the cake ends up on the floor and the talcum powder - well I probably shouldn't talk about where that ends up... Mothermorphosis, the new comedy by Liz Skitch is a giant leap into this acceptance of imperfection and heading to La Mama Trades Hall this week is a great way to fend off the winter freeze.

There are many shows about motherhood - Mum's The Word and Motherhood: The Musical spring to mind without much effort. Everyone is debunking the myths and laughing while they're at it. There is something very special about Mothermorphosis though, and I think it is because Skitch has written a show which embraces the humour and ridiculousness of motherhood, but also retains the pathos and humanity.

Mothermorphosis is not about pointing to pregnancy and motherhood and saying 'look, here is a creature that is an object and can therefore be objectified and designified.' Instead, Skitch has collected a set of experiences, morphed them with her own life and she shows the touching, confusing, exhausting, and exhilerating experience which comes to all mothers as they lose their identity and become 'The mother of...'

Mothermorphosis was a project which was 'birthed' in 2015 when Skitch became a mother herself. Intriguingly there was a book published that same year, with the same title and the same concept of asking a group of mothers about their experiences. It doesn't say in the program whether this project was influenced by Dux's work, but the parallels are too blinding to suggest it is mere coincidence.

Skitch has a long and esteemed career as a comedy artist and what is evident in Mothermorphosis is how delicately she has crafted her clowning skills so that there is almost no definable line between realism and presentation although when you think back over the show you know it was all there to be seen.

Bringing in Davey as the director was a stroke of genius because the seamless interweaving of the absurd, comic and real in the script and performance is a perfect compliment to Davey's love of surrealism, disruption, immersion and interaction. Both women work to expose the harsh and the ugly, but they both do it with love, honour and respect...and a heavy dose of belly aching hilarity with hits you from the very beginning right through to the very end.

How often do you see a show which makes you want to give a standing ovation every 5 minutes because of the absolute genius on display? Very rarely indeed! Davey and Wenn have created some of the most incredible impact moments with the sound and Davey is not afraid to explore kitsch. Add to that her love of disrupting moments with movement sequences which are automatic content of the best kind and at one point we ended up watching a pastiche not disimilar to Fantasia.

Can I get you a Vegemite sandwich? How about some pumpkin soup? Do you want to take a selfie? Let's give clicks to the Stage Manager. There are so many ways Skitch engages and engages with the audience in gently intrusive yet respectful and uplifting ways. There is no fourth wall in Mothermorphosis (except for the chicken).

Week has created a textured landscape which references the surrrealism of Davey's ideas and Vabre has a knack with domestic light sources which give the space depth, height, and personality - very similar to lighting for photography. His talents also mirror Skitch's and Davey's with an amazing ability to seemlessly blend shifts so subtle you don't notice them through to great shocking moments that give a burst of adrenaline.

Perhaps one of the things we don't tend to see about the mothers in our lives is that moment they stop being themselves and become a child's appendage. Mothermorphosis is a celebration and warning about that moment. We see the moment Lizi disappears and becomes Molly's Mum. We hear about how Donny (the partner) likes Lizi better but has to live with Molly's Mum. And in an artful circle of life conceit, Lizi's Mum appears next to the chicken to tell her story too.

Mixed in amongst Skitch's experience are testimonials which have been taken from the research she did with other mothers so there is an undeniable universality and authenticity about Mothermorphosis. Oh, and I won't give too much away, but not only is the fourth wall removed. The entire theatre is removed at one beautiful moment in the show.

There are so many meta layers in Mothermorphosis you will enjoy peeling them away as the show unfolds. This show is a real hoot and real to boot. Don't miss it!

5 Stars

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