Mother by Daniel Keene was written for actor Noni Hazlehurst and director Matt Scholten.
Mother toured Victoria and Tasmania in 2015 and New South Wales and Queensland in 2016 to metropolitan and regional theatres. The tour was produced by If Theatre and Regional Arts Victoria. Mother will be presented in a co-production with Belvoir Street Theatre in 2018.
Mother tells the story of Christie, a homeless woman in a world detached, unforgiving and destructive. It gives voice to the fallen and dispossessed, to those who exist at the edge of safety, at the point of being undone. It speaks of madness, denial, ignorance and free-falling poverty.
Utterly devastating, yet written with Daniel Keene’s characteristic lyricism, Mother is wrought with tenderness, violence and loneliness in equal measure.
Mother won the 2015 Drama Victoria award for Best Performance by a Theatre Company, VCE Drama.
Mother was nominated for two Helpmann Awards: Best Performance by a Female Actor for Noni Hazlehurst and Best Regional Touring Production. The production was also a finalist in the APACA Tour of the Year awards.
“Hazlehurst gives an authoritative performance, steeped in vulnerability; never collapsing into easy sympathy or the opposite. It might be a dance of despair, but Hazlehurst gives full play to Keene’s black comic observations and draws out a complex dramatic tension between abjection and agency. Matt Scholten directs with the sure-footedness you’d expect from his long collaboration with Keene. Audiences around the country should jump at the chance to see Hazlehurst perform in this haunted, confronting work.” Cameron Woodhead, The Age June 2015
“Mother is a tough, funny, poetic, tragic, unsentimental 70 minutes in the company of Christy, a cranky, sardonic woman who might not be as old as circumstances have made her. Hard times, past nightmares and too much booze have made her unsteady on her feet but clear-eyed and unimpressed by the society that has discarded her. Got up in discarded clothes that have not quite fallen apart yet and grubby as a newly-dug potato, Christy is surrounded by meagre belongings that can barely be distinguished from the detritus of city streets. (Set and costume design: Kat Chan, lighting design Tom Willis.) After yelling at noisy crows that seem intent on mocking her (beautiful sound design: Darius Kedros), Christy begins to tell her story – of acidic conversations with her husband Lenny that ripple and run like a tributary of Joyce. Matt Scholten has a long, rich history with Daniel Keene and has also previously directed Hazlehurst and clearly understands the nuances and rhythms of the work and has the confidence of the performer. The result is a seamless, fragile, intelligent and tough performance from an actress at the top of her game. Hazlehurst’s is a performance not to be missed.”
Diana Simmonds, Stage Noise 2016
“In a tour de force one-woman show Hazlehurst offers a towering glimpse of a misunderstood and grievously wronged mother, her struggle for survival, her pain, the consequences of her choices, and her cry for recognition. Mother is superbly written, brilliantly performed and sensitively directed. It offers a rare opportunity to see Hazlehurst live on stage. Not to be missed.” Peter Wilkins, Sydney Morning Herald 2016
“Noni Hazlehurst plays the role of Christie with an uncompromising conviction but still shows the warmth of a needy human being underneath the tough exterior. It’s a beautiful and memorable performance. You’re almost unaware of Matt Scholten’s direction of the play but that is one of its strengths. It is never theatrical in its approach, allowing the actress to move and perform with great naturalness. Set, costume and props by Kat Chan, although deceptively simple have obviously been carefully thought out and are very effective. The sound by Darius Kedros is particularly well-designed and atmospheric and it’s all complemented by a nicely shadowy lighting design by Tom Willis. A good play should give you more than just entertainment. This one leaves you thinking deeply about life, love and compassion.” Len Power, Canberra Critics Circle 2016
Inquiries regarding the presentation of this production in festivals and by professional theatre companies can be made to Matt Scholten.
The play may be purchased from Currency Press or the Australian Script Centre.
Image credits: Serena Ryan & Tom Willis