In Mamahood, Nicolle Nattrass doesn’t go deep enough to become Everymama

Nicolle Nattress's Mamahood is too generic to have much impact.

This is the only image I can find for “Mamahood: turn and face the strange”. So sue me; I’m a blogger.

I’m finding it impossible not to damn Mamahood with faint praise. There’s nothing really wrong with this show, but there’s nothing arrestingly right about it either.

In her solo work, Mamahood: turn and face the strange, writer and performer Nicolle Nattrass tells us about her first and only pregnancy—she conceived on the eve of her fortieth birthday—the delivery of her son, and her postpartum depression.

Nattrass is a warmly personable performer and some of her material is witty: in a section about a baby fair, I’m pretty sure I caught a reference to tot pole dancing. And Nattrass is willing to poke fun at herself: she admits that, when her baby was unable to sleep deeply for months on end, she and her husband engaged the services of “a medical intuitive lady who sends energy long distance.”

There’s an element of service in Nattrass’s sharing. Every performance is followed by a talkback with counselors for the Pacific Postpartum Support Society. And I learned about Postpartum Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a useful and clearly legitimate concept.

That said, in terms of its artistry, Mamahood, which was directed by the king of the Fringe festivals, TJ Dawe, feels like an okay, slightly overlong Fringe show. Its confessional storytelling never goes deep enough to hit anything revelatory. And one of the ongoing theatrical tropes, the sampling of pop songs, is often more predictably illustrative than hilarious. When Nattrass shares her intuitive healer story with some other new moms, for instance, she says, “Everybody just looks at me like…” and we hear a clip from The Doors’ “People Are Strange”.

I love babies. I love baby stories of all kinds. I’m grateful for the generosity of Mamahood, and I wish it had surprised me more.

MAMAHOOD: TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE By Nicolle Nattrass. Directed by TJ Dawe. Presented by the Firehall Arts Centre. At the Firehall Arts Centre on Wednesday, October 19. Continues until October 29.

 

For tickets to Mamahood phone 604-689-9026 or go to boxoffice@firehallartscentre.ca.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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