Mom’s the Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty

Clockwise from left: Robin Nichol, Deborah Williams, Jill Daum (behind popcorn bag), Alison Kelly and Barbara Pollard (centre front)
Credit: Emily Cooper

At the Arts Club Granville Island Stage until May 6, 2017. Held over until May 20, 2017.


Posted April 14, 2017

Who let the Moms out? Bill Millerd, Artistic Managing Director, Arts Club Theatre, and we’re so happy he did. It’s no exaggeration to say the Mom’s the Word Collective is a phenomenal success that began in 1993 when a group of exhausted new moms – formerly professional actors, now reduced to trial-and-error motherhood – got together to air their frustrations and their dirty laundry in a let-it-all-hang-out theatrical exposé of the so-called joys of being a mom.

After a gestation period of a couple of years, Mom’s the Word saw the light of day at the 1994 Women in View Festival. Since then, Mom’s the Word and its sequels, Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged and Mom’s the Word: Remixed, have toured internationally and garnered rave reviews from Melbourne to Glasgow.

When the women get broody, the Collective’s director Wayne Harrison expects the call: “There’s another one on the way.” Finding their nests emptying, kids grown, marriages evolving or dissolving, boobs and bums drooping, the moms strike again with Mom’s The Word 3: Nest ½ Empty.

Deborah Williams, Alison Kelly, Barbara Pollard and Jill Daum
Credit: Emily Cooper

There’s something here for everyone including mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers and especially adult children struggling to understand their mothers who alternately welcome them home and then tell them to “get out”; moms who immediately paint their recently-departed kids’ bedrooms “Dusty Rose” and turn them into meditation rooms; moms who long for grandchildren but who make it clear after a day of being Grandma that it’s time for their own mommies and daddies to take the little darlings home. Don’t take young kids to this show if you don’t want to explain why Grandma goes into ecstasy when she turns her down-there, lady parts toward the jets in the hot tub.

United by the Collective, these are, however, five very different women of roughly the same age. Deborah Williams is the scratchiest of the bunch: ferocious and loud, she’s tough on kids and marriage but somehow you know she cares deeply for her son, her daughter and the husband she mercilessly skewers. Best of all, in lambasting him, she discovers one of her own shortcomings: she’s not a listener. Barbara Pollard, recently divorced, has gone through the stages of grieving – past wanting to kill the bastard who dumped her and took another woman to Barbados, beyond lusting after Luigi, the handsome Italian aquafit instructor, to eventually discovering she’s okay on her own.

Barbara Pollard, Deborah Williams, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol and Jill Daum
Set and costume design: Pam Johnson
Credit: Emily Cooper

Feeling the emptiness of the nest the most – at least until her son and daughter come back home to live – is Alison Kelly. Feeling bereft when her son first moved out, she took to arriving uninvited at his new digs; once she climbed a ladder, entered his second storey apartment and painted his bathroom – you guessed it, Dusty Rose. Some time later, he came back home to live on her couch. Damn.

Robin Nichol appears relatively unscathed by her son leaving home except that he took her beer fridge with him. Happily, the beer fridge came back.

This is a very brave show and bravest of all is Jill Daum whose husband John Mann, lead singer of Sprit of the West, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s a few years ago. It’s not a teary story but a statement of facts: she now does everything for him and she’s already anticipating the time when she can’t breathe for him.

There’s a lot in this evening with a running time of just over two hours. Most of it is hilarious, some of it is sad beyond words and all of it is honest. This is, as director Harrison says, Theatre of Reflection. You are not listed as one of the characters but you are, nevertheless, in the mix somewhere.

Alison Kelly (left) and Jill Daum
Credit: Emily Cooper