“Don’t eat that, I’ve just bought it …”
I didn’t think I was really the person Mum’s The Word is aimed at. Chiefly because I’m not a mum. The friend I was going to take along with me, though, she is a mum to a six-month old baby. And for mum-to-a-six-month-old-baby related reasons she ended up unable to join me. So, not only was I childless but mum-less. This was going to be a long night.
I needn’t have worried, because Mum’s The Word is so universal you can’t help but laugh. Drawn from a similar vein as Grumpy Old Women type stage shows, it has a conversational, anecdotal style with set pieces along the way. Five chairs, five actors, a smattering of set and props. Simple but effective.
Gillian Taylforth kicks things off … by going in to labour. Her opening monologue about the agony and ecstasy of childbirth pretty much encapsulates the whole show – laugh out loud funny, moving and searingly truthful (testified by the knowing nods between the mothers around me).
All of the performances are strong, although some have more of a sense of a consistent character than others. Taylforth’s Robin tries to keep a connection with her partner; Tracy Shaw’s earth-mother Jill; Susie Fenwick as Deborah, desperate to get back to work and the ‘real world’.
Mandy Holliday is terrifically funny as Barbara, her changing rooms dash to retrieve little Desmond an eye-popping moment that has her fellow actors doubled over with laughter. Sally Ann Matthews also impresses as Alison. On the one hand, hilarious as the frazzled mum too stressed to remember to dress herself properly, on the other quietly desperate as the mother to a very poorly, very premature baby.
I may not be a mother, but I have a mother. I may not have a child, but I was a child. As were we all. And here lies the key to the show’s huge worldwide success – no matter what your situation, you can relate to it in some way. And those sections that you have no first-hand knowledge or experience of (ie, being engulfed by the contents of the nappy soak bucket!) are delivered with such panache you laugh/grimace/are moved anyway.
Funny and emotional, Mum’s The Word is worth a look ... don't keep it to yourself.