Thirty years since it first graced our television screens, Australian favourite Mother and Son comes to life on stage, in the Playhouse Theatre at QPAC.
Veteran actress Noeline Brown (The Mavis Bramston Show, Dancing with the Stars, Talkin’ About Your Generation, Spicks and Specks) plays the iconic role of Maggie, and Darren Gilshenan (Full Frontal, The Moodys, Janet King, The Killing Field) plays her long-suffering son, Arthur.
They are joined onstage by Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Robyn Arthur and Sharon Davis, and acclaimed stage and screen performer, Rachael Beck. Beck recently starred as Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2014, as well as in musical shows with David Hobson, Both Sides and My Baby Just Cares.
Rachael Beck took some time out after the first previews to speak with Jemma Lanyon about this TV to stage adaptation, and her own transition from performing music theatre to plays.
“It’s certainly a different discipline, you have to be so astute, and so clear and energized with your thoughts and more impulsive”, she says.
[pull_left]It can be handled much like a Sondheim. There’s a rhythm to it, and there’s a melody to it. There’s a melody to the lines, and there’s a rhythm in comedy[/pull_left]
“It’s a really intricate dance that changes every night. It’s a bit more organic. There’s more room to grow and move and develop your character.”
Still, she says there are similarities between the styles, “If a piece is written really well, as this one is, it can be handled much like a Sondheim. There’s a rhythm to it, and there’s a melody to it. There’s a melody to the lines, and there’s a rhythm in comedy or you won’t get the pay off.”
Geoffrey Atherden, who wrote the original TV series, has adapted it for the stage and Beck thoroughly enjoyed working with him during rehearsals.
“He’s done a fantastic job. He’s certainly captured the essence of the series. They’re not mimicking the people from the series, but they have their essence. Last night was like a rock concert, they were laughing from beginning and end.” says Beck.
Beck was fortunate enough to be approached to play Anita in Mother and Son. She had performed with the producer, Spencer McLaren, in Beauty and the Beast, and Roger Hodgman was her director for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She describes her character as “a new character, developed for the play, and she is Arthur’s love interest. Anita supports Arthur, she’s on Arthur’s side, which is really, really refreshing. She brings a lot of heart to the show. She grows. Her journey is one of self worth, and knowing there could be love for her.”
Beck says the appeal of the show comes from Australians’ keenness to see a slice of their own lives. It’s also an exploration of ageing- something that (with luck) we will all experience.
“The show is written so beautifully – it’s such great humour,” she explains. “It’s a piece that transcends time. I mean, everyone is going to age. They either are living it, or they will live it. It’s a subject that is very relevant, and it doesn’t make fun of it, but it makes light of it. It brings humour into quite a serious subject.”
Queensland Theatre Company presents the Joint Ventures, Lascorp Entertainment, and Fractured Limb production Mother and Son plays at QPAC’s Playhouse until 15 March. For more information, Visit the QPAC website.