Father & Daughter meets Mother & Son
9:46 PM - 24/02/2015
Geoffrey Atherden, the mastermind behind the Australian comedic classic Mother and Son, has returned to the fore with Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenan to reacquaint Brisbane audiences with the unforgettable characters of Maggie and Arthur Beare. Supported by Rob Carlton as the duplicitous, but strangely likeable, older son Robert, the stage production brings to life the relatable characters of one of Australia’s most successful television comedies.
The staging was simple yet functional without the need for complex set changes and was constructed around the quintessential living room and kitchen of Maggie’s treasured family home. The centre wall of the home easily converted the set to Robert’s dental surgery, the respite sitting room and as a backdrop to illustrate the frequent ‘Skype sessions’ between Robert’s wife Liz, their 2 children Damien and Teonie with the ever ‘forgetful’ Maggie. Whilst not really essential to the overall plot, introducing aspects such as Skype, mobile phones and the internet to Maggie Beare’s world ensures the programme provides the classic tale with a modern twist, appealing to a new age of viewers.
The actors involved in this production, whilst providing a sound background and performance, took a little bit to get used to. On first glance (and working purely of the physical characteristics of the actors in the original series), you may be forgiven for mistaking Arthur for Robert and vice-versa. Pause and watch the interactions for a moment though, and you’ll soon recognise the impeccably executed mannerisms that pay homage to Ruth Cracknell, Garry McDonald and Henri Szeps.
The plot itself is traditional in its overall feel focusing on Arthur’s ever-present dorkiness and internal struggle between the love for his mother and the urge to branch out and live a life of his own coupled with the egocentric Robert who is unable to grasp anything beyond the end of his nose. Darren Gilshenan plays the role of Arthur to perfection whilst Rob Carlton faultlessly grasps the Robert psyche whilst creating a sort of charm that almost demands you like him.
Liz Beare on stage is a much more likeable character, creating a watered down version of the snobbish, prudish character in the original. Liz is portrayed more as the ever-suffering victim who finally cracks at the conclusion of the play. Rachael Beck performs Arthur’s love interest Anita, fashioning a quirky, fun loving individual who breathes a new, fresh light to the existing relationships that we’re familiar with. Noeline Brown provides the glue between the characters in this adaptation and her mischievousness, wit and comedic genius depicts the modern-day Maggie with a skill and refinement not dissimilar to the Ruth Cracknell classic 30 years ago.
The Queensland Theatre Company brings Mother and Son up to date with the times, providing a tale of family ties and values in the most comedic fashion. Come and hear the story of the holiday by the sea, where dolphins swam at their feet; the never-ending ‘where did that phone go’; the familiar ‘I say Arthur’ and finally the juggling act between family responsibilities and a 40-something’s shot at love.
Remembering back to watching the television show as a child with my father, it was quite refreshing for us both to be able to relate to this latest stage production. I seemed to connect more thanks to the updated technology and modern references whereby Dad still saw enough of his much loved television show from the years of my childhood, enabling him to connect with the cast as if they were on our turn dial television set at home. This production certainly made for a perfect evening out between Father and Daughter.