Nicole Moeller’s new play The Mothers opened Thursday night and is running at the Alberta Avenue Community League until March 8th as parts of the Skirts Afire festival. It’s a solo show performed by Annette Loiselle and directed by Glenda Sterling. Like The Pink Unicorn, it is a story from a mother’s perspective, examining a parent’s role and responsibilities over a teenager’s choices. Was the mother oblivious to some long-standing problem of her son? Were the stories she told about him just ordinary stories that didn’t explain the current crisis? Did it make a difference that she had been young and unprepared to parent? What I liked best about this story is that the answers to those questions were not obvious.
Although the boy got himself into huge newsworthy trouble, the story on stage was the smaller story of the the mother’s life afterwards. “Just start over,” is a recurring suggestion, but maybe she can’t and maybe she doesn’t want to. Bit by bit, as she goes through her son’s belongings in a stark packed-up basement bedroom, she re-examines her life and her son’s life, trying to figure out how her son got to be the person he became, and whether she could have – should have – done anything differently. Although her relationships with her husband and daughter are not smooth either, they don’t seem to be nearly as fraught as the link she’s had with her son, who’s had some of the same struggles she has.
I wondered before I went why the plural Mothers in the title, when it was going to be a solo show. (I had similar thoughts about the drama Mothers and Sons which I saw on Broadway last year, and I ended up concluding that it was supposed to represent the universality of the story.) But it did kind of make sense, with the narrating character Grace talking about her interactions with other mothers affected by the events, and wondering how it felt to be them.
Partway through the performance, I got wondering whether the narration was going to have a tidy or satisfying end, since it didn’t seem to follow a careful chronological order. It did end with a retelling of the son’s crisis and with the mother’s resolve to, not quite start over, but get on with the next things needed.
I identified with the mother. I’ve never needed to deal with the kinds of decisions and consequences she was dealing with, and I’m glad I haven’t. It would be interesting to see how this story is heard by people who would be more inclined to identify with the son. Tickets for shows up to March 4th are available at Tix on the Square, with same-day tickets at the venue until they sell out, and during the festival weekend March 6-8 admission is by donation at the door.
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