Arts Club Theatre Company
Mom’s The Word: Nest ½ Empty by Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard, and Deborah Williams

Dates and Venue June 6 – July 20, 2019; Mon–Thu at 7:30pm, Fri & Sat at 8 PM, Wed at 1:30pm, and Sat at 2pm

Director Wayne Harrison Choreography Anna Kuman Set Designer Pam Johnson Costume Designer Pam Johnson Lighting Designer Marsha Sibthorpe Sound & Projection Designer Kate De Lorme Props Master Carol Macdonald Stage Manager Pamela Jakobs

Reviewer John Jane

Mom’s the Word Collective is back! Albeit as a remount of the 2017 Mom's the Word 3: Nest 1/2 Empty. Actually, the “Moms” have never been away and now as mothers to adult offspring they are dedicating themselves more than ever to that most selfless career – motherhood.

The kids may have left home, leaving their parents with a mix of relief and anxiety, but the small problems with small children have been replaced with the bigger issues that come from guiding twenty-something kin without seeming to interfere. Add to that, issues with creeping middle-age bring a jolt to any zealous matriarch’s mortality.

One glance at Pam Johnson’s compact set and one can immediately see that there have been significant life changes going on since the previous chapter. Stacks of cardboard boxes are strewn around the stage and white linen sheets cover furniture.

Parents who have gotten older, children who have gotten older, but haven’t grown up, lack of spousal attention and too much spousal attention are just some of the problems career moms face in maturity. When the kids grow up and finally flee the nest they don’t always take their problems with them. And arguably, more disruptive than the kids finding their wings and making their own way in the world – is when they return with those wings in need of repair.

Directed by Wayne Harrison, the play has no linear storyline or dramatic arc. Instead the five women (Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol, Barbara Pollard, and Deborah Williams) deliver individual anecdotes, some hilarious, some poignant, about their personal experiences. It’s a bona fide ensemble piece, although, at times it comes across as a tag-team monologue.

Since the last outing, Barbara Pollard’s character has split from her husband in a bitter divorce (bitter for her anyway). She is painfully aware that her ex has a new lady in his life, but can’t resist lamenting on happier times. After therapy sessions she allows herself to recall the wrongs she did and the things her ex did right. When she divulges the outcome to him over a phone call, she is then able to move on with a more positive mindset.

The bravest performance comes from Jill Daum. Married to former Spirit of the West frontman John Mann who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease despite only in his fifties. Daum opens up with deeply affecting anecdotes throughout the show about the personal burdens of being John’s caregiver.

The show succeeds on many levels, but mostly because of the audience’s self-recognition in the humour. We bring our own personal lens to it. After all, many of us have already experienced the same “joys” of parenthood – the others – they’re about to.

© 2019 John Jane