Maria De Marco Mara De Marco, an accomplished Theatre Nepean graduate, sparkled in white at the gala performance of her Caba-MA-ret, entitled M.A, at the Newtown Theatre. Directed by Markus Weber and intimately staged, M.A is Maria’s self-written show about mothers and daughters, and especially her own experiences of the mother/daughter relationship.

Refreshingly frank and with tongue firmly in cheek we meet Sigmund (no last names, please) first as the show opens on a meeting of M.A (Mothers Anonymous). From the moment Maria emerges onstage (late to the meeting) she is instantly likeable.  With an open and expressive face and a self-deprecating honesty, she builds a rapport with the audience by confiding her mother’s reaction about attending the M.A. meeting was to immediately ask if there would be any men there for Maria to meet.

Picking up the pace with the opening number ‘She could drive a daughter crazy’ (a clever reworking of Sondheim’s ‘You could drive a person crazy’ from Company), M.A becomes a rollicking exploration of life with her Italian mother, a confessional of sorts in the middle of the M.A meeting. Alternate lyrics from De Marco, Weber, and composer/musician/audio-designer Michael Summ connect the songs to the story with wit and finesse, and help us move at a brisk pace from Sondheim to Kander and Ebb to DeMarco/Weber/Summ original compositions (such as the hilarious ‘Guilt’).

As De Marco weave together tales of psychiatrists, questionable planned courtship techniques, and “face-picking” we arrive – somewhat abruptly but left appropriately breathless, at the epiphany of the piece, sweetly sung into Billy Joel’s ‘Summer, Highland Falls’ – “We are always what our situations hand us; it’s either sadness or euphoria.”

De Marco’s M.A is consistently funny, lightly poignant, and even if you don’t meet your future husband there (sorry Ma), it’s still an enjoyable evening.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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