Mother / Whaea, Tama / Son

Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

16/03/2007 - 01/04/2007

Auckland Festival 2007

Production Details

WRITTEN BY Albert Belz, Gary Henderson, Kath Akuhata-Brown, Norelle Scott, Heath Jones and Michele Hine

Presented by A LETHAL SET

Outspoken, funny and unsentimental

A Lethal Set (the production company) draws together fourteen New Zealand creative artists and performers to weave a bold, outspoken, funny and unsentimental look at one of the most crucial of all human relationships; the bond between mother and son.

Mother/Whaea, Tama/Son takes a unique look at Māori and Pakeha stories of mother/son relationships and charts their passage through five milestones, each of which irreversibly alters the familial bond. This relatively unexplored relationship has inbuilt colour, tension, intensity and drama. The interlacing of cultural perspective brings its’ own dynamic possibility.

Mothers and sons bend to the generational weave, bearing the weight of their lifetimes past and still to come. Sometimes they tear, but the weave is alive and will reach around again. The mother-son relationship, once begun, lasts for a lifetime.

Mother/Whaea, Tama/Son is a glimpse at one of life’s most critical human attachments, and the enduring mark it leaves.

Driving this collaborative process are Heath Jones and Michele Hine, co-conspirators of previous successful productions. Created in collaboration with the actors, the five scenes have each been written by a different New Zealand playwright – each a mother or son, Māori or Pakeha, with their own story.

This vibrant theatrical and audiovisual journey captures the breath of human experience, from the absurd to the profound. It is vital contemporary theatre that draws on New Zealand’s unique perspective, both culturally and personally.

Vanessa Rare Nicola Kawana
Michele Hine
Tainui Tukiwaho
Fraser Brown

Theatre ,

Take your mother

Review by Jarrod Martin 19th Mar 2007

Mother / Whaea, Tama / Son was created by puttng the mother/son relationship under the microscope. The result is an engaging, uncensored, universal scattering of scenes that follow the developments of boyhood to fatherhood and motherhood to old age. It focuses on how the familial bond changes over time, suggesting a passing of nurture, where the role of the caregiver reverses in equal and opposite ways.

This relationship diagnostic unfolds with only a small number of boxes on stage, minimal props, and video projection of iconic childhood images and images symbolic of time moving in a cyclic manner to complete the backdrop.

Mother / Whaea, Tama / Son is stuffed with moments where the audience recognises themselves in the character. Each of the cast has their moment in the sun. 

I take my hat off to Nicola Kawana, walking into her role a week before opening. She draws the audience in and leads us to some ‘bring the house down’ moments. Michelle Hine displays her craft and swiftly moves the play forward bringing the audience with her. Her Alzheimer’s-ridden grandmother, holding on to a largely regrettable past, solidly ties up a well justified performance.

Fraser Brown was the stand out on opening night, managing to delight the audience as a curious playful young boy in his earlier scenes. He then takes us through ripples of laugh to laughs out loud as a testosterone-ridden teenager, and finishes on an agonizingly frustrated man feeling the pressure of too many responsibilities. Tainui Tukiwa, too, is a pleasure to watch, passing the ball quickly on stage and unselfishly inviting the audience to observe.

The play itself is five well written [by different writers] and well performed scenes that come from a process of trying to uncover a universal story, and it works. The audience’s attention is asked to dart around the stage, it makes us laugh for the first three quarters of the play and it demands a deeper retrospective of why we were laughing to end. 

It is a testament to intimate theatre and thoroughly worth putting the time aside to watch. Some things you can choose but you can’t choose your mother. Give her a call, see if she wants to come.  


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