Mother F: Articulate Elbow Gilded Balloon

The blurb on the flyer sounded interesting – “a celebratory and touching comedy about mothers. A mother dies and two sisters rummage through her attic” It tells us that the story will be told “using a physical style, new writing, witty choreography, sitcom, standup and cabaret” so that maybe should have warned me not to expect the obvious.

The set is an attic full of the usual stuff you find in attics – sports gear, boxes, toys, clothes. Two women bound on stage with babies strapped to their chests, and start dancing to loud disco music. The babies, it transpires, are the sisters and their conversation starts to explain their relationship with their mother and with each other. Susan was always the favourite and was the one to flee the nest early, Isabel the one who stayed behind. In the end, when Susan tells Isabel that she is free at last now that Mum is dead, her reply is that we can never get rid of our mother because we are her.

They take us on a journey through their childhood and give us glimpses of their mother – a former Bluebell dancer, glamorous, controlling, fun. They look at motherhood in general and what it means. All of it done in a very different and delightfully daft way. There is a good bit about the different ways we say the word Mum – the Mum can you give me a lift voice, Mum I’ve hurt my finger voice, Mum I hate you voice – and countless more, we all know them.
There are poignant moments such as the funeral scene with the tolling of the bell and Ave Maria in the background but even this gets the clown treatment as in the next moment Isabel is stomping around in water filled wellies. There are hilarious moments such as when they find a joint in Mum’s old handbag and get high. And the crowning glory is the scene where they don exotic costumes and embark on a dance routine which ends with pingpong balls being fired into the audience.

Yes, it all sounds a bit crazy because that is what it is. The audience were a bit bemused by it all at first but once we got used to it we just went along with the flow and enjoyed the fun. There is a really good show in here somewhere but it needs tightening up a bit, particularly at the beginning.

Irene Brownlee