Arts 13 Dec 2021

Pangdemonium's The Mother: The last straw

By Minsoo K
Photograph by CIS Communications

There is something engrossing about theatre. Something more than liveness. Reality gushes on stage: there are actual people in motion in our sight. There is no doubt that what happens on stage is real.

The Mother twisted this perception — is what you see really the reality?

At one moment, we felt confident about what was happening on stage. The next, this confidence was shattered. By the end of the production, we wondered if anything we watched happened at all.

That’s how the mother felt.

It is an appalling sight of a mother that we witnessed at the Victoria Theatre. After marriage, kids and dedications given to the family, what’s left in Anne (Janice Koh) was neurosis that turned her world into chaos, and we, the audience, observed it first-hand through her eyes.

Her husband kept going to seminars. Her son kept avoiding her. Her son’s girlfriend kept getting on her nerves. The play was a repetition of these — a surreal, rampant, and increasingly delusional sequence of events. Nothing made sense. They were not meant to make sense. You observe them unfold and interject, and you feel as though you are the one who is going through a mental crisis. We saw Anne not as a strong mother but as a vulnerable individual, and we couldn’t help but empathise with her.

Perhaps the global pandemic played a role here. For the last couple of years, we became acquainted with the themes The Mother highlighted. Lockdowns brought us closer than ever to what it means to be isolated, so our hearts could see how loneliness disintegrated Anne. As complicated as the show was, we could easily stand in her shoes and see her with great sympathy.

Pangdemonium’s The Mother was a translucent lens that refracted the reality of motherhood. Through it we saw a twisted reflection of what it means to be a mother. Though it’s not representative of all mothers, the story nevertheless carried one of the bigger fragments of truth: the horrid sensation of loss, isolation, and loneliness mothers are subjected to.

Do you grow into motherhood, or is motherhood all that’s left after you slowly disappear?