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23rd May 2022

Review: Oh Mother

Cora Grim reviews RashDash’s Oh Mother at HOME
Review: Oh Mother
Photo: The Other Richard.

This play went beyond what I expected: intersectional, thought-provoking and fabulously executed, RashDash’s production most certainly sheds light on motherhood in a way like no other.

For a play about parenthood – in particular motherhood – the stage was dominated with the boldly lit word BABY, which dominates the stage in a way that imitates the way a baby consumes the life of a mother, which is then exposed in accounts that follow. The stage was cluttered, and there was a dishwasher that transforms throughout. The stage is somewhat cluttered, giving the air of a house with a child in. The play starts off with an apology for the delay as they were busy tidying.

Woven together by breathless monologues, repeated motifs and moments of chaos, the play montages the psychological rollercoaster of motherhood as the unpredictability of the play imitates the unpredictability of being a mother.

The scenes are overflowing, hyper-sensualised and, at times, overwhelming, leaving there to be so much to unpack: Abbi Greenland, Helen Goalen, and Simone Seales explore both the beautiful and the ugly parts of parenthood: the nappies, the sleepless nights, the constant feeding, the mess, and the never-ending dependency.

At the play’s core is the complexity of being a mother: the pull between wanting to be the default parent and continue normal activities of life is clear with conversations between Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland (Abbi dressed up as the father in a fluffy teddy bear suit) as they throw a golden baby around in response to their shifting responsibility and conflicted minds. This is not a play that glorifies mothers fully but dissects the struggles of it; in doing so, it demonstrates why mums can be so admired.

Simone Seales’ fabulous cello compositions accompany scenes musically and the cello becomes their main baby to play with, cradle and tend to, but also acting as an aural outlet of emotion throughout. The parent/child relationship that unfolds between Simone and Helen Goalen demonstrates the difficulty and difference between what mothers expect their child to be and what their child is not particularly with the mother’s archaic views on gender. Scenes between Simone and their personified vagina are comical yet vital, as they manage motherly expectation against Simone’s own identity outside any gender binary.

The dishwasher on stage transforms sometimes beyond its domestic function.  There is one scene where it acts as a womb-like hiding space but also as a dangerous toy that a child is drawn to. The dishwasher provides emotional stability when the mother cannot grasp her child’s identity as she violently opens and closes the dishwasher in a moment of frantic breakdown. Helen returns to the dishwasher to stabilise both her domestic position and her views.

The play dissects motherhood in a way that is refreshing, raw and compelling. It’s an absolute must-see!

Oh Mother runs at HOME until 28th May and tours the UK until August.

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