Holy Mothers

  • Date:
    Wednesday, June 2, 1999

    The inaugural season has opened with the British Premiere of "HOLY MOTHERS" by Werner Schwab in a new version by Meredith Oakes. It is directed by Richard Jones, whose recent credits include "Hansel and Gretel' at the Sadler's Wells and "Titanic" on Broadway.

    The story concerns three ageing women who discuss and fantasise about sex and liver sausages! There is 'Mariedl', who looks like an elderly child with a ponytail. She is a crude toilet cleaner who is called upon to unblock people's toilets, which she insists upon doing without rubber gloves! She graphically describes the procedure to her friends and rejoices in her job. The other women are more sophisticated. 'Erna' is very religious and she is always looking for ways to save money. 'Grete', imagines herself to be a bleached blonde seductress, as well as being obsessed by her dog. The women fantasise and dream up stories, which finally merge into a ghastly conclusion!

    This play is not for the faint hearted. It is littered with crude language, and has an horrific ending that you may find nauseating! This black comedy is an acquired taste, which is not suitable to my palette. I found the play lacking in any intelligent dialogue, grossly offensive and more importantly, utterly pointless! I have tried to think of a possible explanation of what the author was trying to convey, but have so far failed.

    Linda Dobell as 'Mariedl', Paola Dionisotti as 'Grete' and Valerie Lilley as 'Erna' do a good job with the material they have to work with, and each portrays their respective character with confidence and belief. But, except for the odd bit of humour, there is nothing they could do to save this play.

    NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD says, "The salaciousness of Holy Mothers simply invites giggles from those who keep a part of themselves forever infantile." And goes on to say "..the Characters' lurid grotesqueries seem artificially imposed." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE of THE TIMES loved the play saying, "Richard Jones's production is unmissable." JOHN PETER OF THE SUNDAY TIMES says, "I think Schwab sees the world as a place where you shovel shit and get done for it by your resentful elders."

    I cannot recommend this play to the average theatregoer. It is 'toilet humour' and deserves to be flushed down the toilet!

    (Darren Dalglish)

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