Mother of Him at Park Theatre
Mother of Him revolves around a terrible act committed by 17-year-old Matthew (Scott Folan) and the painful aftermath his family must live through. While the teenager is under house arrest awaiting his sentence, his mother Brenda (Tracy-Ann Oberman) and eight-year-old brother Jason (Matt Goldberg) face the repercussions of his actions every time they step outside their home. Reporters camp by their door scrutinising their every move; and with Brenda’s face all over the newspapers and Jason being bullied at school, there is a heavy feeling of mounting tension.
Set in 1990s Toronto, the story of the crime is told from the mother’s point of view. Her son’s disgraceful choices put Brenda in an emotionally and psychologically taxing position. It is she who becomes the focus of the media storm that ensues and the target of many harsh attacks. Brenda is portrayed as a three-dimensional woman with her own limitations and faults who nevertheless tries her best to love and protect her children.
The dilemma of whether Brenda should support Matthew or reprimand and resent him is central to the play. Oberman juggles the contrasting feelings of anger, guilt and love with finesse. Aided by a strong cast, she creates a dimension in which the action rarely feels contrived, especially as regards the main family nucleus. The audience is often made to feel like a fly on the wall witnessing the real-life drama of a family whose members are imperfect, misunderstood and broken by circumstance.
The set mainly constitutes of a number of stacked blocks that are rearranged to represent the various rooms of the house. The result is effective but scene changes are sometimes long and less than smooth. Everything is of a subdued grey tone that reflects the lack of warmth in the household, although the overall look is perhaps too clinical.
Poignant and intense, Mother of Him is a play in which raw emotions reign and ethical questions abound. Complex emotional states are portrayed with precision, allowing the pathos to strike and the subtle mournfulness within the household to be felt.
Photo: Bronwen Sharp
Mother of Him is at Park Theatre from 18th September until 16th October 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.