Review: I Hate You My Mother (Old Fitz Theatre)

whiteboxVenue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Jan 24 – Feb 11, 2017
Playwright: Jeanette Cronin
Director: Kim Hardwick
Cast: Jeanette Cronin, Simen Glømmen Bostad
Image by Rupert Reid

Theatre review
In Jeanette Cronin’s I Hate You My Mother, strange stories are told of women with webbed feet and their, less strange but more abhorrent, transgressions as defilers of sons. The playwright’s epic, mysterious, poetic style means that access to psychological dimensions are restricted, but its ability to intrigue is without doubt. Her characters are boundlessly colourful, made seductive by generous helpings of ambiguity. We find ourselves drawn in, enthralled by the sounds of their speech, although the subtlety of their revelations can cause frustration. The play’s enigmatic qualities work effectively beyond the sensual when they manage to provoke thought, but we often luxuriate only on the surface.

Elevated by beautiful work from its team of designers, the production is effortlessly elegant, with an atmosphere cleverly calculated to secure our attention. Director Kim Hardwick establishes an ethereal grace that underscores the entire show, but even though its theatricality is charming, its sense of drama tends to be underwhelming. Qualities of danger and moral deficiencies are central to the work but they feel underplayed, subsequently distancing the audience from its controversial themes. The play wishes to talk about paedophilia and incest, both difficult subjects, but its sophisticated approach lets us off the hook, and we continue to pretend not to see.

Cronin is actor for the female roles, each of them devious, powerful and unpredictable. There is no performer more gratifying than one with something to say, and Cronin is certainly rich with ideas and passionate intentions. Her male counterparts are played by Simen Glømmen Bostad, less confident but equally compelling nonetheless. They find excellent chemistry in every scene, luring us into all their exchanges, although resolutely cryptic in their expressions. The experience of gender can tell great stories, because none is free of its taint, yet it often hides itself from consciousness. In I Hate You My Mother, women do unspeakable things to boys, and we have to wonder why.

www.oldfitztheatre.com

5 Questions with Jeanette Cronin and Simen Glømmen Bostad

Jeanette Cronin

Jeanette Cronin

Simen Glømmen Bostad: You have a very successful career as an actor. Did you always write as well? And how did this other side of you emerge?
Jeanette Cronin: I’ve always jotted down ideas. Scraps of paper everywhere. One day I turned one of those scraps into a story. Perhaps it was because I was older and less busy, so I started writing
things for senior chicks. I didn’t really think about that, though, I just had a little story to tell.
In I Hate You My Mother we meet four women who in some ways share the qualities of the Bean
Nighe or the Cannard Noz, the washerwomen of Irish Folklore who drown men by the riverside.

How did this interest come about?
Couldn’t tell you now. Something took me there…

What do you want the audience to be left with after watching this play?
That love is king, and if you mangle it, you mangle everything. And also the slightest glimmer of hope.

If you got your hands on one of those highly sought after time-machines, what time and place would you visit?
The Neanderthals are tempting. But then those 1930’s frocks do suit me. And there are a few famous disappearances I would like to sort out…

If you could change one thing in this world what would it be?
Everyone would have imagination. And with it, empathy.

Simen Glømmen Bostad

Simen Glømmen Bostad

Jeanette Cronin: Simen, you play five characters in I Hate You My Mother – well, four characters and a prologue. Do you have a favourite?
Simen Glømmen Bostad: Favourite? Well, there is this Dr. Carreaux, a narcissistic hypocritical new-age
psychotherapist. Just try to say it.

Is this play something you would want your mother to see?
Of course. I want my mum to see everything I do, even if it might be unpleasant or shocking to her. I think we always need to be reminded of the bad in us, not just the good.

If you had to describe I Hate You My Mother in one word, what would it be?
Radiant.

What was the last play you did in your native Norway? Is there a theatre at home that you might
describe as a sister theatre to The Fitz? We could suss about a little cultural exchange…

Last thing I did in Norway was an interpretation of Romeo And Juliet, where there were 5
actors playing Romeo and 5 actors playing Juliet. There is a really cool theatre company in Oslo called, AntiTheatre. They give Oslo a flare of something dangerous in the theatre scene. I’m a huge supporter for international collaborations. I will be able to set up a dialogue straight away if its wanted by Old Fitz.

What do you miss most about home?
Parent’s cooking and the four seasons.

Jeanette Cronin and Simen Glømmen Bostad can be seen in I Hate You My Mother by Cronin.
Dates: 24 Jan – 11 Feb, 2017
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre