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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Theatre review: Mom’s the Word: Nest 1/2 Empty may play it a little safe, but it is deeply connective

The Mom’s The Word Collective returns with more tales from motherhood and beyond

From streaking naked to coping with Alzheimer’s, Mom’s the Word: Nest 1/2 Empty proves that the adventure of parenthood continues well into this three-quel. And while some moments fell flat, others sparkled with vivacious emotion. It is a show about finding connection throughout our lives and it succeeds on so many levels.

Like the previous two Mom’s the Word shows, Nest 1/2 Empty winds together five contrasting monologues as the women of the Mom’s the Word Collective discover their lives after their children have moved on.

Jill Daum is a heart-rending knockout as she peppers in moments of vulnerability as she deals with her partner’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She is stalwart and joyful as she navigates how motherhood prepared her to shift titles once more; from lover to caretaker.

Robin Nichol is a contrasting delight as she finds herself advocating a motorcycle for her son against a grating girlfriend. Her practical, solid performance threads in a no-nonsense sanity to the piece.

Barbara Pollard is a comic delight as the recently divorced fearless grandmother streaking through a public pool.

Deborah Williams provides the off-kilter one-liners that provide the most consistent laughs as her husband and adventurous children keep calling her from hospitals in the middle of the night.

Finally, Alison Kelly shines as a mom whose children left the nest, only to return to hibernate on her couch.

Deborah Williams, Jill Daum, and Alison Kelly in Mom’s the Word: Nest ½ Empty. Photo by Emily Cooper.
Deborah Williams, Jill Daum, and Alison Kelly in Mom’s the Word: Nest ½ Empty. Photo by Emily Cooper.

The struggles of each woman are real and independent, providing a beautiful spectrum of experience for the audience to enjoy. But the moments that stand out are the small ones. The moments of connection. Where one woman is interrupted mid-monologue by another with a tray of cookies, or a laugh from the sidelines. The collective is the show’s strength and their visible connection its strongest asset.

Mom’s the Word Nest 1/2 Empty is a new step on a familiar journey. The performers feel like pros which, at the shows heights creates a wonderful sense of community, but at its lows makes it feel like old hat. The show does plays it very safe with the level of candour about these experiences which may allow audiences to walk out of the theatre with a smile on their face, but without the gut punch of a change in perspective. Does a show need that punch to be successful? No, but with a show about connecting through a shared human experience, it feels like a missed opportunity.

Mom’s the Word: Nest 1/2 Empty is a lovely show that will warm your heart, make you laugh, and maybe cry. It points out the foibles that make us human and lets us enjoy them, rather than confront them. It is a lovely night out at the theatre. Take a mom and enjoy.

Mom’s The Word: Nest 1/2 Empty by The Mom’s the Word Collective. Directed by Wayne Harrison. Presented by the Arts Club Theatre Company. On stage at the Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston St, Vancouver) until July 20, 2019. Visit for tickets and information.

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