Matrophobia! is the kind of theatre that makes you feel frustrated and captivated by turns.
The piece, which has been created by the Daughters Collective and directed by Olivia Monticciolo, is a tribute to the four individual mothers of the female performers and to motherhood itself. Matrophobia! is about motherhood, but more importantly, it is an ode to the creative power of the female body.
The performers employ a variety of tactics to tackle their complex attitudes towards their own mothers as well as the ‘nurturer’ identity. The performers describe the physical attributes and career accomplishments of their mothers at great length.
We see them impersonate the mothers that they exasperatedly love. For example, one mother warbles tonelessly while cleaning. Another sends constant text-message updates on meals she has just eaten at restaurants. In one of the darker moments of the performance, we witness a mother and daughter hurl recriminatory abuse at each other.
There is something exciting about the way in which Matrophobia! shows us naturalistic conversations between women about motherhood and women’s health. These are the kinds of conversations that are often had, but not often portrayed on stage.
Other performance styles are used to explore motherhood as well. The grey-beige, tummy-punishing Spanx of your nightmares are exploited for their rich comedic potential. There is also slam poetry attuned to the current political dire straits, and choreographed movement that makes unexpectedly great use of a classic Peaches tune.
The way sections of the performance have been ordered, however, occasionally feels messy, and the underlying message is at times clouded by this.
Matrophobia! is thankfully a fluid enough work of theatre that the material will easily be pulled into sharper focus with each performance.
Matrophobia! will be running at the Bakehouse Theatre until March 18. You can purchase tickets here.