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Mum's The Word (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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A feminist fairyland- Mum’s The Word is the female Yorkie bar, appealing for women, yet a little sickening for men. Discussing ‘those’ first stages of motherhood- from diapers, to parental conflict, to sudden maternal instincts- five women share their stories in a light-hearted and fun production, which has the occasional irritability of nappy rash.

Written in 1993 the piece was initiated by six Canadian actresses, who all had more than their talent in common. From the professionalism and ‘razzle dazzle’ of the stage, their lives transformed since the very moment of childbirth. Suddenly there was madness and mayhem, hormones were flying and sitting down was only a mere luxury.

Mum’s the Word collates all of these shared experiences, truthfully exploring the highs and lows of being the female parent and proving that mum’s everywhere are not on their own!

The show begins slowly, seemingly going round in circles, as monologue after monologue appears to say exactly the same thing in a slightly different way. The pace improves, however, as the performance continues, each new story having the ability to instigate nods of the head and “I’ve been there too” giggles from many audience members.

The cast, on the whole, do the comedic dialogue justice. Tracy Shaw, Susie Fenwick and Mandy Holliday work well together, their performances all having believability about them (probably due to the fact they are all mothers themselves!)

Stealing the limelight is former Coronation Street actress, Sally Ann Matthews, who is fabulous as the ditzy, “I’ve lost my marbles” character, Alison. Her physicality and priceless facial expressions are enough to have you in stitches, whilst her more serious storylines are the most touching of them all. It is not that her lines are any better than the rest of the cast's, it is simply that she has the impressive ability of making the most of her every word.

Gillian Taylforth, the replacement for Bennie Nolan, was unfortunately understudied for this performance by Lauren Barclay. Understandably she was the weakest of all the actresses, her nervous energy and occasional stumbling over words meaning that the full cast could never be entirely complicit. However, being the biggest of the parts (and the one worthy of the final bow), I can only hope and imagine that Taylforth will find more depth to it.

Act Two is undoubtedly stronger, having much more energy than the first half, as well as a highly humorous surprise from Holliday that had even her fellow performers in mild hysterics.

Given a little bit of motherly care, the production has the potential to be the perfect escape for mums of all ages, who, in the words of Fenwick’s character, Deborah, have started the day as Mary Poppins and ended it as Cruella De Vill.

- Rebecca Cohen.


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