Directed by Matt Scholten
If Theatre & Regional Arts Victoria
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 1 October
Review by Len Power 28 September 2016
‘I might stink but I know me rights’, says Noni Hazlehurst’s character, Christie, in Daniel Keene’s play, ‘Mother’. Set in a rubbish dump, this one person play is an absorbing study of a lonely woman who has descended to a rock bottom existence. How and why she got there is the basis for this strong, confronting but entertaining play by Daniel Keene.
Christie’s problems seemed to begin with an unsatisfying marriage and a few drinks with a neighbour. From there it was a short journey to alcoholism, not providing proper care for her baby son, alienation from her husband and ultimately homelessness, cut off from society. Daniel Keene’s play presents a vivid portrait of a tragic character most people would avoid contact with. By the play’s end we really feel for this woman but we’re also left with that uncomfortable sense of how easy it could be to end up the same way.
Daniel Keene has written a play of great depth. The level of detail in the character of Christie is extraordinary. The conversations from the past that she relates may be real or imaginary but the writer’s skill makes us believe what she is telling us. Although the subject matter is confronting, there are flashes of dark humour here and there and even the use of very strong language at times is both funny and shocking.
Noni Hazlehurst plays the role of Christie with an uncompromising conviction but still shows the warmth of a needy human being underneath the tough exterior. It’s a beautiful and memorable performance.
You’re almost unaware of Matt Scholten’s direction of the play but that is one of its strengths. It is never theatrical in its approach, allowing the actress to move and perform with great naturalness. Set, costume and props by Kat Chan, although deceptively simple have obviously been carefully thought out and are very effective. The sound by Darius Kedros is particularly well-designed and atmospheric and it’s all complemented by a nicely shadowy lighting design by Tom Willis.
A good play should give you more than just entertainment. This one leaves you thinking deeply about life, love and compassion.
Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound Fm 92.7’s ‘Artcetera’ program on Saturdays from 9.00am.