Mom’s sequel ventures into teen territory
Actress’s own secret part of comedy’s brutal honesty
PREVIEW What: Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged When: Opens tonight, until June 22 Where: Belfry Theatre
Tickets: $22 to $36 (Tel. 385-6815)
In the play Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged, Deborah Williams reveals a deep, dark secret. The kind you might reveal to a best friend ... but only after a quadruple martini.
In the show, the Vancouver actress/writer talks of having contemplated having an affair and leaving her husband despite decades of marriage.
It’s undoubtedly great material. But a certain somebody had to be informed before the sequence hit the stage. So Williams, trembling with trepidation, approached her hubby and spilled all.
“He goes, ‘Is that it? thought it was going to be bad,’ ” she said with a laugh.
Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged and the original, Mom’s the Word, are comedies that endeavour to take a ruthlessly honest — and thus funny — look at the frustrations and rewards of mommyhood. Williams co-created them with friends Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Robin Nichol and Barbara Pollard. The first show was born from a coffee klatch. The women decided to each write 10 minutes of mommy-related material and “it just sort of snowballed from there.”
These plays are tremendously popular. The 1994 instalment has been performed more than 10,000 times in a dozen countries, including a run on London’s West End. There were even translated productions in Tyrol, Italy and Bergen, Norway. The sequel, launched three years ago, is also doing well. It’s set to open in Sydney, Australia, with a second cast after a six-month run in Melbourne.
While the original show was about raising tots, Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged takes a look at the turbulent teenage years. Williams says this was a trickier proposition. The issues — sex, drugs, alcohol — are much more serious.
“It becomes much more about life and death,” she said.
When she was younger, Williams was a feminist determined to make it in acting.
Motherhood — her kids are 15 and 17 — has mellowed her. She showed up for an interview with her knitting. And Williams confessed she is part of a monthly knitting club, dubbed the Eastside Needle Exchange.
Her children, Georgia and Jeremiah, keep her on her toes. Williams recalled that, as a 13-year-old, her boy once racked up large bills with a phone sex company.
“It’s a shocker,” she said. “You deal with it. You move on.”
Both teens grew up to be more conservative than their artsy parents (Williams’s husband, who’s “a big flake, too,” teaches theatre production at Studio 58). Georgia is an air cadet who marches and dreams of being a pilot, a nurse or a police officer. And Jeremiah plans on teaching sciences.
Williams recalls worrying years ago whether her children were being instilled with strong moral values.
So the entire family started going to church. Today, her teens refuse to go. But Williams and her husband are still church-goers — although perhaps more for social than religious reasons.
“Church is now a date. It’s a guaranteed, once-a-week date for my husband and I. We sit in the pew and hold hands. It’s the only time we spend together.”
Williams says the troupe was initially reluctant to create a Mom’s the Word sequel. Now, they’re happily contemplating a third one. It would revolve around the “empty nest” syndrome.
And the actress vows she’ll write about it as honestly as the first two instalments.
“I feel,” she said, “ like it’s my job.”