Review: Motherlode (The Hub Studio / Rue De La Rocket)

Venue: Actors Centre Australia (Leichhardt NSW), May 4 – 13, 2017
Director: Dean Carey
Cast: Jo Briant, Mel Dodge, Karli Evans, Lana Kershaw, Monette Lee, Jan Oxenbould, Natalie Rees

Theatre review
The journey begins from an unremarkable place. Seven women of Caucasian appearance sit in a row, talking about their children. The play is verbatim, with a script collated from interviews about the topic of motherhood, a life experience that many share, but little of which remains surprising. When humans bond, we can only embark with conversations that are pedestrian in nature, and then destiny decides if things can get deeper.

Halfway through Motherlode, the discussions become powerful, disarmingly so. The women begin to reveal the darkest of their lives, in order to get to the crux of how they manage their relationships with children. We can only love the way we had been shown, so much of the talk is about these women’s own parents, and one of these stories in particular, is nothing short of harrowing.

Actor Karli Evans’s retelling of a character’s shocking childhood encounters involving unimaginable abuse, is by far the most poignant of the vignettes that make up the play. Evans delivers the monologue with a sense of psychological accuracy, along with thorough emotional authenticity, causing us to not only witness the pain hidden behind some of our everyday facades, but also to understand the depth of meaning that having children could mean.

Similarly memorable is Monette Lee in the role of a bubbly, spirited immigrant of Russian origin, who offers balance to narratives that tend to depict Australia as being singularly bourgeois. Lana Kershaw’s portrayal of a lesbian-identifying sex worker and PhD candidate, who had chosen to be a single parent, adds immeasurable texture to an otherwise narrow image of motherhood. Both Lee and Kershaw use the outsider qualities of their parts to excellent effect, equally impressive with the exuberance they each bring to the stage.

The production concludes with a strong message of solidarity, but we think of the other mothers who are not represented on this stage. To understand our families, is to understand our cultures. It is not entirely clear if women of colour are among Motherlode‘s interviewees, but the increasingly diverse face of Australia requires that we broaden our conceptions about values and traditions. In anthropological investigations of motherhood, it is important to understand that we come from a range of backgrounds as varied as our skin colour. As we discover what it is to be an Australian mother, it is crucial to explore how our Indigenous women relate to the subject. If we are unable to cherish the past of this land, and if we continue to ignore the changing complexion of our evolution, we will never be able to completely know who we are. |

Response from show producer:
Thank you for seeing the show. And thank you for your comment about the casting – this is such an important issue and one we would like to briefly comment on. The production had culturally diverse collaborators on the project during its development process, but unfortunately due to last minute scheduling conflicts to do with family and work opportunities, a couple of cast members could unfortunately not proceed with the show. As we were unable to recast appropriately to tell the stories authentically, we decided to focus on this phase as a development stage of the project with a limited cast. We are really excited for the next phase where we will be actively increasing the culturally diverse stories told and broadening the conversation around motherhood.

Suzy Goes See’s Best Of 2014


2014 has been a busy year. Choosing memorable moments from the 194 shows I had reviewed in these 12 months is a mind-bending exercise, but a wonderful opportunity that shows just how amazing and vibrant, theatre people are in Sydney. Thank you to artists, companies, publicists and punters who continue to support Suzy Goes See. Have a lovely holiday season and a happy new year! Now on to the Best Of 2014 list (all in random order)…

Suzy x

 Avant Garde Angels
The bravest and most creatively experimental works in 2014.

 Quirky Questers
The most unusual and colourful characters to appear on our stages in 2014.

♥ Design Doyennes
Outstanding visual design in 2014. Fabulous lights, sets and costumes.

♥ Darlings Of Dance
Breathtaking brilliance in the dance space of 2014.

♥ Musical Marvels
Outstanding performers in cabaret and musicals in 2014.

♥ Second Fiddle Superstars
Scene-stealers of 2014 in supporting roles.

♥ Ensemble Excellence
Casts in 2014 rich with chemistry and talent.

♥ Champs Of Comedy
Best comedic performances of 2014.

♥ Daredevils Of Drama
Best actors in dramatic roles in 2014.

♥ Wise With Words
Best new scripts of 2014.

 Directorial Dominance
Best direction in 2014.

♥ Shows Of The Year
The mighty Top 10.

♥ Suzy’s Special Soft Spot
A special mention for the diversity of cultures that have featured in its programming this year.

  • ATYP



Photography by Roderick Ng, Dec 2014


Best of 2018 | Best of 2017 | Best of 2016Best of 2015Best Of 2013

Review: This Is My Box (Rue de la Rocket)

ruedelarocketVenue: Bondi Pavilion Theatre (Bondi NSW), Jul 16 – 19
Playwrights: Karli Evans, Erin Taylor, Karena Thomas
Director: Erin Taylor
Cast: Karli Evans, Karena Thomas

Theatre review
This Is My Box features two women in very colourful exercise gear exorcising demons. Their costumes do not change, but the actors go through many different characters in this hour long piece. They portray familiar everyday personalities from different walks of life, but they are all unified by their inanities. This is a work about the people we are afraid of becoming. They come from every social class, but are all less than intelligent. Their lives are filled with mundanity and they do not seem to have any mental capacity to escape their respective hells. This is probably a work about all of us, even though it may initially seem to be about “those people”.

The script is superb. It has all the hallmarks of a thoroughly devised work, relying on much more than words, where every moment is made absurd, and with a plot trajectory that is never predictable, yet everything seems to make sense. The narrative is about instincts and emotional reactions, rather than logic and story. Characters and scene changes are distinct, which gives the production a formal grounding, and its theatrical structure. There is a lot of fooling around, but the disciplines that conspire to create this coherent whole are clear to see.

Both performers are compelling, and all their roles are hilarious. Their use of voice, movement and face are exaggerated but appropriately so. It is almost like clown work, except with social commentary. Karli Evans is slightly more proficient with her physicality, while Karena Thomas tickles our funny bone with some very dynamic facial expressions. It is a high energy performance, by women with impressive and confident presences.

Erin Taylor’s direction is sensitive to the strengths of the players. She appears to have a deep understanding of the women’s abilities, and strives to expose all of their best features in these manic 60 minutes. Taylor commits to a specific sense of humour that is probably not of the widest appeal, but the conviction harnessed on stage is absolutely euphoric. The work is critical of many Australian women, but it is never mean spirited. It embodies a kind of sisterhood that is self conscious but generous. It is about girls who do not want to turn into their mothers but are wise enough to realise some inevitabilities.