Although Bye Mum is only 10 minutes long, it represents a wide range of emotions. Love, tenderness, longing. Helplessness, anger, frustration. Madness. Fear. Sacrifice. That’s why it is an outstanding online production that everyone should watch.
Bye Mum tells a heartbreaking story of the last goodbye between an adult man and his mother, suffering from dementia, living in a care home which is about to be closed to visitors to try and control Covid-19. The plot, embedded in the context of the pandemic, puts across a universal message about swapped roles between parents and children nevertheless. It also shows a desperate attempt to outsmart death and answer all the fundamental questions before it’s too late. Relatable for anyone, essentially.
Bye Mum is deeply emotional but not sentimental at all because it features daily activities from the son’s life like gardening, grocery shopping, washing dishes, etc. that anchor both him and the audience in reality. Those images are contrasted with the clips of him and his mum from the past. This helps to express the son’s frustration with his mother’s condition. He recollects bitterly that she used to be a great athlete, a very tidy person and a meticulous woman.
All of those contrastive clips are narrated by the son’s voice, performed by the absolutely brilliant Ben Eagle. Not only is his voice beautiful and calm but also, it perfectly captures the adult’s man emotions who tries to stay strong but sometimes breaks apart and turns into a little child. His experience is touching, authentic and painfully accurate. The voice off, chosen as the acting mode for this production, exempts him from the necessity of speaking to the imagined, virtual audience in front of the screen. Instead, he can focus on the story entirely and does an excellent job. Bye Mum, therefore, resembles a theatrical YouTube video rather than a remote show and it’s a refreshing and promising direction for online theatre these days.
Both the writer, Ronnie Dorsey and the performer, Ben Eagle, deserve a big round of applause, while Bye Mum itself definitely deserves to be watched by as many people as possible.