No Cold Feet in My Mother's Feet
My Mother's Feet officially opened last night at the Canadian Stage Berkeley Theatre. I wonder how it would be different if it had been called, My Mother's Breasts?
Ah, you cringe. Not nice, is it?
But at least you would go to the show knowing you will wiggle in your seat uncomfortably. You'd go knowing what to expect. But instead, you go to a show innocently called My Mother's Feet, only to discover yourself trapped in a room with a play without intermission, where you experience the childhood incest of a boy with his mother and the impact later in his life of their actions.
Luckily, the acting is good. And believe it or not, it's actually enjoyable - even with the topic de jour.
Have you ever wondered how a mother molests her son? Don't worry, neither had I. But walking home, I realized it was a topic worth considering. I mean, what does a woman actually do? Most paedophiles we hear about tend to be men. Or that is what I have noticed in the news. When it's women, do they do anything differently?
I am just guessing, but perhaps it was that unknown element that provoked Gina Wilkinson to explore the topic with her writing. Looking at it from that perspective, the play gets a whole lot more interesting.
You notice the mental manipulation. The guilt the mother, played by Jane Spidell, puts on her son as he grows up. You are going to leave me, she says. He promises he won't. She begs for more time. He caves.
Needless to say, this unhealthy relationship where all of his 'firsts' are with his mom, adversely affects his future relationship with his wife, also played by Spidell.
(Spidell should no doubt be commended for flipping between mother and wife characters with commendable energy and effectiveness. Only, I might suggest, were I asked, that they add a device of some sort beyond lighting techniques, to help the audience with the transitions. I mean, you can't even make the differentiation between characters based on who he is sleeping with. So, as you can imagine, it gets a little confusing.)
Tom Rooney plays Dan, the main character. He does a remarkable job of telling stories and anecdotes that enrapture the audience. Only scarce props including an etching desk and random miniature items in its drawers help him along. The rest of the time, he faces the audience and we look back, our eyes bug-eyed, as he takes on a journey through his life. He even takes us camping to Algonquin Park and through a bear attack. Believe it or not, despite with the far-fetched story where his mother follows him there, off-route and deep into the forest, and even as the mere 70 year old fends the bear off with rocks, he's got our attention.
The poetic and strong writing really adds to the pleasure of the 90-minute show, as does the dream-like forest stage, with a little innuendo in the middle. Bravo!
My Mother's Feet
Runs: March 7-April 2, 2005
written by: Gina Wilkinson
directed by: Micheline Chevrier
Starring: Jerry Franken, Tom Rooney, Jane Spidell
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