Mum and Dad at Sherman Theatre online
Mum and Dad are two short and beautifully written monologues by playwright and Sherman Theatre associate artist Gary Owen. These solo addresses are close to verbatim records from Owen’s mother and father, each describing a moment in time growing up in Pembrokeshire. The dramatist creates an atmosphere of catharsis with these genuine retellings of real moments from his parents’ youth.
Both Lynne Hunter, playing Mum, and Michael Sheen, playing Dad, treat their characters with sensitivity, giving honest and charismatic performances. Owen’s parents were both clearly outdoorsy types; his mother helps her father break in horses, taking care of them day in day out, whilst his father appears to have lived on a farm. The costume and make up enhance the feeling of al fresco living; both actors adopt a cosy and worn look, with scruffy hair and woollen jumpers.
Hunter retells the story of his mum’s youth, exploring her relationship with her father and their shared love of horses. As a young girl, she would help her dad make money by breaking in colts. She describes her fondness for one particular pony and her subsequent devastation when it is eventually sold for an undeserving price. Hunter films her monologue straight-on, with the camera in very close proximity to her face. We watch, painstakingly, as Hunter’s facial expression changes, from an ecstatic young girl to one who is heartbroken.
In a much shorter monologue, Sheen retells the story of a single incident which occurs whilst his family are attending to his father in hospital. Sheen sits in his armchair as he captivatingly recounts the sighting of a shadowy figure coming towards him whilst walking down the lane of his house. He expresses his fear towards the unidentifiable being with wide eyes and a soft tone, creating a chilling stillness as he speaks. Towards the end of his monologue, it is inferred his father has passed away whilst in hospital. This is particularly poignant as the monologue comes to a close, as his mother states his father is now “wandering” – perhaps he was saying his last goodbye.
In a time where we are celebrating heroes and the people who are making a difference for the good of the nation, Owen rightly highlights the everyday heroes we are quick to forget. Hunter and Sheen bring life to these stories and in doing so, allow them to have their moment in the spotlight. They become real and exciting for a short but glorious moment.