Review By Regan Baker
“Noni Hazlehurst…” I think to myself as I jump in the car and head down the M1 to the Home of the Arts Theatre on the Gold Coast. “Why does that name ring a bell…” I wracked my brain over and over again, but I just couldn’t unravel the familiarity of the name. I had read the synopsis of Mother the night before and cast my mind over as many dramatic plays, TV series, and films that I had seen recently to try and put two and two together, but to no avail.
“Hey, did you know this has Noni from Play School in it?” I hear Gemma say from the passenger seat beside me. “Play School? That can’t be it!” I think to myself.
It takes a moment or two for me to piece the revelation together, but she’s 100% correct. It would have been more than twenty years since I last sat down on the couch in front of the old CRT television and watched Noni on Play School, and here we are some 20 years later on our way to enjoy her work again - in a very different genre.
Mother tells the story of a world that is cruel, relentless and unforgiving, where a homeless woman, Christie (Hazlehurst), is trying to navigate her way through life without crumbling under its weight. She used to have a good life; a roof over her head, a husband that loved her and a son that was her entire world. Everything that is good can be taken away so quickly though, and Christie’s life quickly falls to despair, addiction and devastation.
Hazlehurst embodies the role of Christie with everything she has and brilliantly executes every detail of her character with finesse. From her drawn out, almost forced blinking, to the tremors in her hands and her weakened stride, Hazlehurst truly delivers the performance of a lifetime.
Daniel Keene’s writing of Mother is superb in every way and his storytelling ability is second to none. There is not a single moment where the audience isn’t engrossed in Christie’s story and each of Keene’s carefully constructed lines is delivered with pin-point accurate timing and pace by Hazlehurst. It is beautifully evident that writer, actor and Director (Matt Scholten) have worked together in harmony to bring this story of chaos, violence and loneliness to the stage. In addition, the combination of Kat Chan’s set and costume design and the desolate lighting by Tom Willis added to this vast sense of loneliness and isolation on a stage that is (probably) only 20m wide.
Play School may just be a distant memory now, but here we are some twenty-years later where I have re-discovered my love for Noni Hazlehurst as an actor all over again. An utterly devastating story, Hazlehurst delivered an immensely powerful performance that commanded a teary-eyed standing ovation at its conclusion. Mother closes at HOTA on Saturday the 29th of February but continues its season at QPAC in Brisbane from the 4th to the 14th of March. An absolute must see!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.