Empty nester plays games
OTHERS and children alike will find they can relate to the ‘‘wicked, manipulative and possessive’’ character Mum in Javeenbah Theatre’s new stage show, The Anniversary.
The Anniversary is a British black comedy that follows the storyline of Mum – who is fighting to keep her three sons Henry, Tom and Terry at home to remain part of the family business.
Regardless of a deceased Dad, the family are brought together to celebrate Mum’s wedding anniversary – and revolt is in the air.
As Terry gathers the courage to tell Mum he is moving to Canada and Tom breaks the news of his impending marriage, Mum is ready to fight back with gifts, threats and ruthless exploitation of their weaknesses to keep them in her nest.
Director Dawn China says despite Mum’s shocking one-liners and dark character, the audience will find they warm to her.
‘‘They can relate to her – mothers understand it’s sad when your son or daughter leaves home – but they probably don’t go that far to manipulate their kids to stay at home,’’ she says.
‘‘The younger ones will see parts of their mother in the Mum character. They’ll see the reactions from the sons and will be battling for them.’’
The cast features Virginia Leaver as Mum, Dennis Watkins as Henry, Dean Mayer as Terry, Naomi Thompson as Karen, Hayden Bech as Tom and Chantelle Wright as Shirley.
China says Leaver has done an exceptional job of taking on the challenging role.
‘‘The character is not a nice mum; she is a manipulative woman who gets pleasure from driving her sons to their limit,’’ she says.
‘‘But it’s the sheer ease of Mum’s rudeness that is hilarious. It’s dark, but you still find it funny. It’s like laughing at something you shouldn’t be laughing at.
‘‘Virginia brings something different to the role – she is a lovely person so she brings this nice persona to the role. She can grab the audience in, then she can suddenly switch and be quite nasty.’’
Set in the 1960s, China says she goes to extreme lengths to ensure The Anniversary takes the audience on a trip back in time.
‘‘I have tried to make it as real as possible. We found real wallpaper and dressmaking patterns from the ’60s to use,’’ she says.
‘‘From the minute people come in, we want to transport them back.’’
opens at Javeenbah Theatre tomorrow and plays Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm until April 6, with a 2pm matinee on Sunday.
Chantelle Wright (as Shirley) and Hayden Bech (Tom) lock lips in