Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Aarne Neeme
The Q Theatre Queanbeyan to 3 April
Reviewed by Len Power 29 March 2022
Mother and Son, the fondly remembered Australian television sitcom was compelling viewing for many Australians (myself included) for 10 years until the series ended in 1994.
The show, written by Geoffrey Atherden, daringly addressed the problems of ageing and caring for somebody with increasing memory loss while playing essentially as a comedy. It was a gamble for its time but it worked.
This stage version of the TV show was also written by Atherden and was first performed in 2014. All of the original main characters appear in the play and the script is an original, not a rehash of best moments from the TV series.
In the play, long-suffering son, Arthur, is still living with his formidable ageing and forgetful mother. Love has bloomed for Arthur with Anita, a girl he is hoping to marry. The path to the altar proves to be a very windy one as his mother and his selfish dentist brother, Robert, make it difficult for Arthur to realize his dreams.
The play itself is well-written but this production failed to ignite. Julie McGregor seemed to be too young to play Maggie, the mother, and it was hard to warm to her interpretation of the character. Maggie was more irritation than anything else. None of the other actors gave engaging performances and comic timing was poor with laughs often lost.
The show overall lacked pace and energy. At two hours plus interval it seemed much too long. The voice-overs during scene changes were generally funnier than the onstage action and the set change involving a moving panel was clunky and noisier than it should have been.
There was no printed program either. Prior to the start of the show a voice over advised that we could download it from a web address (if we could remember it). Wow, thanks!
For a professional touring show, this really was not good enough. It was noticeable that some audience members did not return after interval. It was very tempting to follow their example.
This review was first published in the Canberra CityNews digital edition of 29 March.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.