Sunday, September 14, 2014


Written, devised and directed by Alirio Zavarce
A No Strings Attached Theatre Of Disability production
The Q, Queanbeyan
Saturday September 13, 2014

Review by Len Power

Asking a mother when she first met her child seems like an odd question to ask, but you can count on some very interesting responses, as we saw in ‘Sons & Mothers’ at the Q on Saturday night.

This is a complex and unique theatrical work that is very entertaining and ultimately very moving.  Written, devised and directed by Alirio Zavarce, this No Strings Attached Theatre Of Disability production presents six men with disabilities who tell us about their relationships with their mothers.  With the use of slides and video, their real mothers give us their candid views of the relationship, too.

Venezuelan-born director, Alirio Zavarce, whose brother is disabled, has developed and fashioned this work in collaboration with his cast through workshops including improvisations and movement over a three year period.  In the program, he states that, ‘As the writer I have crafted the performance, but the words each performer speaks are his own.  The work is alive and it will change every night’.

Gently guided by the director, each cast member presents his story directly to the audience.  Some of the stories are funny, some are angry and all are quite moving.  There is no manipulation of emotions here, just simple statements of truth.  The one common factor to all the stories is the love between sons and mothers.  The video comment by the mothers provides another aspect of the stories as they unfold.  The onstage presence of these men and their ability to connect with an audience is truly remarkable and not because they have a disability.  These are people who just have that indefinable something – a charisma – that draws you to them like a magnet.

All other elements of the production give a strong theatricality to the work.  The set design by Kathyrn Sproul provides an almost dreamlike atmosphere which is complemented by the excellent lighting design by David Gadsden.  Movement by Aidan Munn adds another charming dimension to the show and the music by Mario Spate is well-chosen.  The clever and thoughtful video design by Eugenia Lim, including projected quotes by famous people about mothers, was especially well done. 

Alirio Zavarce has fashioned an extraordinary work that not only showcases his cast but is also great theatre.  The standing ovation at the end of the performance was well-deserved.  Mark Twain is one of the people quoted during the performance.  He said, ‘My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.’  I know I enjoyed it!

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ showbiz program with Bill Stephens on Sunday 14 September from 5pm.

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