Ottawa Fringe 2011. Momma’s boy
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
June 24, 2011 Friday at 6:22 pm
This appears to be a performance that takes the form of a folktale of the North, with audience directed monologues, replacing the story teller and of course music.
Ginny has come home to the North (Sioux Look Out) where her mother Daphne lives alone. Ginny has just ended a relationship and is seeking a nice quiet place to finish her thesis. She is enrolled in a programme at the U of Toronto. Her mother is happy to see her daughter home and spends her time obsessively shifting coffee cups, like checkers, on a table in the middle of the stage.
Ginny meets Jordan on the plane. He is coming to settle in the North and escape the bustling city As fate would have it, Jordan is smitten with Ginny and he discovers the beauties of the North, thanks to Ginny. Things come to a head when she gets pregnant. Will she leave? Will she stay? Suddenly, Ginny can’t stand living in this place, she is not ready to be pregnant,; she wants to live her life and has to get away.
Jordan pleads with her. He wants her. Her mother needs her. (The songs make sure we know that !!) Ginny loves Jordan but can’t stay. Poor sweet Jordan can’t understand why Ginny is so angry and does not want to become a mother. Daphne on the other hand, lets us know that she needs to be a mother. She mothers her goats – the mother goats and the baby goats-, she mothers Jordan and she especially wants to mother Ginny’s baby. At the same time the image of the wolf that protects her young seems to overflow into a comment about this viciously protective mother but it is quickly evacuated…too bad….and we return to our obsessive mom who sees the North as a place that is green and white and pure and clean, away from all the impure colours and filth of the south. My my!!
The songs emphasize all this and repeat the ideas ad nauseum until the play, which evolves as a series of short, chopped up sequences that dont seem to connect us in any emotional way at all, stalls completely. This eventually becomes a caricature of a folktale. Notions of loneliness and mothering and freedom and such things are all very legitimate but how does one treat these on the stage so they don’t put you to sleep? Certainly not with bad writing, bad directing and sloppy work with actors.
Songs usually come in to heighten a performance. These songs just repeated what had been said and said again to the extent that it all became not only silly but tiresome and eventually embarrassing. And I’ll just mention the soporiphic guitar solos by the "boy". Putting the actor in that situation was not very nice at all.
I did rather like the instrumentals produced for the opening number. They worked more as sound effects, capturing the movement of the airplane. However that is a detail.
The sad thing about this is that Bronwyn Steinberg (Ginny) is probably a very good actress. Rachel Eugster has a beautiful singing voice. What were they doing in something like this? They should be a lot more selective frankly but again, this is Fringe and people want to get into the game and have some fun. Momma’s Boy however, becomes a game that self-destructs.
A production of Asterisk * Rising.
Written and directed by Eleanor Crowder
Jordan William Sommers
Ginny Bromwyn Steinberg
Daphne Rachel Eugster
Clarinet, Foley Sound Tony Nguyen
Guitar, bass, drum, Foley sound Daniel Tarof and Kevin Guerette