The Mother Load

June 23, 2021 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆  Nuanced

Sound Stage (Lyceum/Pitlochry Festival Theatre online): Fri 25 – Sun 27 June
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Mother Load by Lynda Radley, the latest in the Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Sound Stage series of audio presentations, is a warmly human and cleverly constructed piece.

It has often been said that there would be far more plays about birth and motherhood if men were to experience them, and it is certainly true that such matters are woefully under-represented dramatically.

Radley’s script has a more than fair attempt at redressing this, with a combination of universal themes and personal experiences.

Lynda Radley, playwright.

What appears at first to be a by-the-numbers drama featuring the expected stereotypes thrown together at an ante-natal class (neurotic Mobina, conflicted Cat, flakey Rowan) soon opens out into a much more nuanced exploration.

While there is a soap-opera feel to some of it, the judicious use of interior monologue helps to give a more rounded view.

This is helped by an excellent cast. Wendy Seager is thoughtful and measured as Cat, while Anna Russell-Martin makes Rowan both believably annoying and yet thoroughly sympathetic.

beautifully structured and paced

The excellent Nalini Chetty is aided considerably in her portrayal of Mobina both by Isobel McArthur’s exemplary direction and the sound design of Jon Nicholls which – together with MJ McCarthy’s music – plays to the strengths of the audio drama form in reflecting Mobina’s mental state.

The three sections of the drama each focus on one character, although this is not slavishly adhered to. The drama is beautifully structured and paced, with a more dramatic interlude in each section offsetting the more introspective moments. This means that character development goes hand-in-hand with the drama, eliminating almost every danger of melodrama or triteness.

There is a warmth and humour to the production that contrasts with the darker elements. These are represented not only by the more extreme fears on show but also by the way that the production demonstrates just how undervalued motherhood still is in a society obsessed by material gain.

Without preaching or by being ickily ‘life-affirming’, this audio drama provides a welcome corrective to that – as well as being a commendable piece of drama.

Running time 1 hour 50 minutes (including one interval)
Royal Lyceum/ Pitlochry Festival Theatre online
Friday 25 – Saturday 27 June 2021
Evenings Fri/Sat: 7.30 pm; Sun Matinee: 4.30 pm (Virtual bar opens 30mins before start time).

Information and tickets:
Lyceum: Book here.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre: Book Here.

ENDS

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