Review: Arts Club Theatre Company’s “Mom’s The Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty”
About 20 years after the original Mom’s The Word, the cast returns with an updated production that will have you laughing all the way home. For those uninitiated, the format here sees a handful of real life moms dramatically retelling hilarious and zany family stories in a patchwork format. Unlike the majority of theatre, there’s no cohesive or linear narrative. It’s just a group of women telling it like it is. Sometimes reality is far more shocking and entertaining than what a writer can come up with. The third installment of the popular series sees the cast with now adult children, delivering an update of their lives. Having not seen the first two Mom’s The Word productions didn’t leave me out in the dark, though. It was easy to jump right in and love all of these women and their penchant for storytelling.
There are countless laughs, but don’t think of Mom’s as a one trick pony. There is also a lot of heart here, laced in real stories of regret, mourning, and struggle. The five moms regale us with personal anecdotes that make up the majority of the show (there are also a couple musical numbers and a game show segment). In between Barbara Pollard’s priceless retelling of what it’s like to take grandson Hunter to the public pool and Deborah Williams’ reoccurring dark tale about the dead family dog, we have a stark reality in Jill Daum’s struggle with her husband’s Alzheimer’s.
The pacing and format of the production allows the cast to bounce from humour to sadness like a game of ping-pong, just like it is in real life trying to balance some joy within the darkness.
The cast are all natural performers, never shying away from the spotlight, but all giving each other some space and breathing room. When they appear collectively for a group moment (filling in as silent stand-ins at each other’s group therapy appointments or tea parties to help drive the point home), they shine equally. But the fun moments come when the cast breaks off to give a singular cast member the stage for added effect.
There is so much material here, ranging from struggles with past and current partners, managing relationships with adult children, as well as moments of personal reflection in aging and social positioning. So many of the moments are relateable because they’re so earnest, unabolished, and uninhibited. This is a brave cast filled with strong women who have no agenda here other than expressing themselves and providing a mirror to the audience for their own issues and struggles.
It’s a perfect balance of emotion and comedy that adds up to a performance you really do not want to miss. There isn’t a dull moment in the show or a weak link in the cast. Each of the five stars add a very different perspective and brand of comedy, which makes for a charming and enlightening performance. It’s nice to see some genuine human moments onstage sometimes, but Mom’s The Word is chock full of them.
Main image: The cast of Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Mom’s The Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty. All photography by Emily Cooper.
Mom’s The Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty: Written by and starring Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard and Deborah Williams. Directed by Wayne Harrison.
Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Mom’s The Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty runs through May 20, 2017 at The Granville Island Stage.