By Yona Igel
La Mama Theatre supported by the Austrian Embassy + Goethe Institute presents Holy Mothers- a translation by meredith oakes of Werner Scwab’s Die Prasidentinnan directed by Andre Bastian.
We enter the theatre to find 3 women sitting at a kitchen table with a television on in the background playing the inauguration ceremony of Pope John Paul the 2. This initially appears to set the tone that despite their low status as cleaning women we are in the presence of devout women - however - these are the the most foul - mouthed women religious women I have heard for a while!
The kitchen belongs to the frugal Erna played by Helen Doig, She is wearing a fur hat she found - shocked that someone could discard it. She is a loyal mother making the best liver sausage for her son.
Her bleached blonde friend Grete played by Alice Bishop in fabulous animal print lycra is not only obsessed with her dog but with sex. Her dialogue leaves nothing to the imagination and she constantly shocks her more prudish friends. She is the second mother but her daughter has moved to Australia. We later find out the reason which implies Grete was anything but a “holy’ mother.
Our third ‘mother’ is Mariedl who has no children but through her devout Catholicism and love for living things would have seen her become a nun and probably become a Mother Superior. Her claim to fame is that she is comfortable sticking her hand up to the armpit to unblock toilets. The play turns when each woman slips into fantasy world of her own. Erna is proposed to by her boyfriend- the best butcher who makes liver sausage, Grete seducing a the tuba -player who has great sexual process and Mariedl extracts from the blocked toilet gifts she believes are from the Priest. Then with an unexpected twist we see how dreams can turn into nightmares.
This is not just a domestic comedy but a surreal farce. The insights it gives us through toilet humour -maybe not to everyones taste - are real and still current .
Its a fine line between laughter and tears, a tone that this production achieves and therefore can be enjoyed on many levels.
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