Reviewed by Stephanie Johnson
Mother and Son the television series snapped, crackled and popped. Mother and Son the play at Holden Street Theatres does not.
This is a play that comes with preconceptions like any play that is attached to a high-profile film or television production.
In this case the hilarious Mother and Son television show was an Australian award winning sitcom that placed Ruth Cracknell and Garry McDonald firmly in the public eye.
Writer/creator Geoffrey Atherden hit a public nerve with the dysfunctional duo. The television series sizzled with understated innuendo and emotional manipulation of Olympian proportions. In short it was painfully funny.
Matt Byrne Media’s production lacks the sizzle mainly due to the duo themselves. Isabella Norton sweetly meanders through the role of Maggie Beare failing to capture the menacing qualities that create much-needed doubt over whether or not this mother is a victim of old-age or a Machiavellian marvel. As such Kim Clark does his best but struggles to get his teeth into the role of her long-suffering son Arthur Beare.
It is left to Byrne himself, and his supporting cast, to inject some life and humour into this production. Byrne is shrill, sharp and somewhat sinister as the self-centred brother Robbie Beare. The scenes between Byrne and Clark provide some of the highlights of the evening.
Kim York is wonderful as Robbie’s long-suffering wife Elizabeth. She hits just the right note as the aggrieved cohort with an agenda of her own.
Njal Venning and Laura Villani team up as Mrs Arkon and Costa, a convincing and entertaining mother and son combination.
Fair or unfair, comparisons are made and this play could have done with some strong off-stage direction.