BWW Review: MOTHER OF HIM, Park Theatre
Based on a true story, Evan Placey's debut play Mother of Him tells the story of a Canadian teenager under house arrest while he waits for his hearing.
We eventually discover that Matthew (Scott Folan) has raped several girls at a sorority house along with a friend. Although we don't see the world outside, every time the front door opens there are flashes from the paparazzi cameras and shouts from journalists who are camped outside the family home.
Tracy-Ann Oberman plays Brenda, Matthew's mother. She's spent the past few years raising Matthew and her youngest son, eight-year-old Jason (played by Matt Goldberg on press night), as a single mother. When Matthew is accused of raping three girls in one night, Brenda is torn - she still loves her son, but she also struggles to even look at him.
She tries to do right by her son and attempts to have him sentenced as a child instead of an adult, to try and paint him as someone who just made a mistake. She worries about the impact the case is having on Jason and wonders if there was something she could have done to prevent the behaviour in Matthew.
Oberman is devastating in her role. Her guilt is palpable even as she openly shows her disgust towards her son and his action; she can't bring herself to hate him fully - he is her son, after all. The scene where she describes running into the mother of one of her son's victims in a local supermarket is particularly heart-breaking. There's also brilliant support by Goldberg, and by Anjelica Serra in one of her roles as the Kapowitz's kind and thoughtful cleaner Tess.
Lee Newby's set design is effective, creating a cold and claustrophobic environment. With grey bare walls and floor, the family's life feels colourless and flat. The play is set in the 1990s, with an old-school television and clunky mobile phones helping the audience to embrace that era.
The play leaves us guessing at the outcome of Matthew's hearing, which is frustrating, and it's a shame that none of the courtroom action actually takes place on stage. The scene changes also feel rather clunky and long at times as the furniture is manipulated to create another room inside the house. It sometimes feels like you should be on the edge of your seat, but the lack of tension in Max Lindsay's production creates a slightly flat atmosphere.
Photo Credit: Bronwen Sharp