Mother’s Day is one of the most hard-hitting shows I’ve seen in my life. Directed by Stephanie Fuller and written by Louise Monaghan, the narrative is split between two parts. The first describes a night-long friendship between Jasmine (Jenny Wills), who is street homeless and sleeping on a cot mattress; and Tillie, a 19-year-old from suburbia, trying to find a way home after an MDMA-fueled night out. Over the course of six-or-so hours, bubbles are blown, stories of loss are recounted and a doll’s house is made, as a present for Jasmine’s young daughter in care.
The second details the actors’ own experiences of homelessness, with Jenny going from “sun, sea and Sangria” to “I live in my car”, and [Maria] telling tales of having all her money used by her gambling-addict boyfriend behind her back. Throughout this narrative, the audience are made to chant questions and throwaway mantras (e.g. “you have the same 24 hours in the day as Beyonce”) in a variety of tones. Funnily enough, my fellow audience members had their mum voices down pat!
Jenny is an absolute gem of an actor; who would be perfect in a slice-of-life soap, whether or not the character has experienced homelessness. Maria plays the bronzed and fast-fashion-clad Tilly with as much smarm as she has sweetness (tons). Both in character, as themselves and in the void between, it’s evident they play off each other so well, even when they’re just grinding up against cardboard boxes in drug-fuelled bliss.
Created as part of the REBUILD Arts project, multiple women who had experienced homelessness created their own cardboard conceptualisations of their dream abodes, which comprise part of the show’s set design. Some are spiritual, one is reminiscent of the Princess and the Pea, all are visually stunning. I also commend the use of lighting to convey emotions of trigger, nostalgia and the space between.
The show’s main flaw is in the writing, as the script gets a bit convoluted towards the end. Not only does Jasmine act like such a temporary-mother-figure that you wonder if she is somehow Tilly’s long-lost mum, but at one point it becomes easy to assume that your life can uplevel and problems will be solved once you take just one hit of ecstasy. (Also, as someone who at least wants to believe in the Law of Attraction/Assumption, way to shut down the idea of creative visualisation! Let me draw out my oracle cards in peace…)
Mother’s Day is not for the faint of heart – themes are heavy, voices are raised and truths are told with no filter. Even if some scenes come across as lost-in-translation, it’s still an unforgettable and poignant watch.