Written by Geoffrey Atherden, Mother & Son is a widely – beloved Australian television series.
The show’s original premise was simple, but allowed for tremendous comic scope.
A newly – divorced man moves back home to care for his aging, scatterbrained parent. Though the long – widowed woman appears to be losing her memory, she manipulates this condition to clever advantage.
More often than not, the son’s plans to escape or enjoy some time alone are frustrated and trumped by her constant scheming. On top of which, his caddish older brother tricks their mother into believing that he is the family’s golden boy instead.
Atherden’s sensational scripts were brought to life by a stellar cast.
Playing the mother, veteran stage and screen actress Ruth Cracknell starred as the irrepressible Maggie Beare. Garry McDonald was her hapless son, Arthur. Henri Szeps played his sibling rival, Robert, and Judy Morris was Robert’s cynical, status – hungry wife, Liz.
From 1984 until 1994, Mother & Son ran for ten years and 42 hilarious episodes.
Thanks to its universal subject matter, the sitcom was sold to over fifty countries around the world. Dubbed into countless languages, it has also been remade as Keeping Mum (for the United Kingdom), Glöm inte mamma! (Sweden), and Pas på mor (Denmark).
The landmark classic is available on DVD, and still airs globally to this day.
Longtime fans of Mother & Son will be delighted to learn that Atherden has created an entirely fresh storyline. Written exclusively for the stage, his quartet of loveable, dysfunctional characters will no doubt earn him brand new followers as well.
At two hours in length, Roger Hodgman’s expert direction keeps this lively show perfectly – paced, forever charming and just a little bit cheeky. It also contains the crackling dialogue, sidesplitting jokes, and satisfying plot points that made the original series such a deserving success.
In a stroke of genius, Atherden has set Mother & Son squarely in the present. With the perils of modern technology in dangerous reach, now Maggie has a new set of toys to dazzle and confound her. From mobile phones to remote – controlled home care, she enjoys no end of mischief and generates constant havoc for everyone else around her.
Theatre audiences will adore Noeline Brown as Maggie, Darren Gilshenan as Arthur, Shane Jacobson as Robert, and Nicki Wendt as Liz.
In a recent interview, Brown has stated that in tackling this iconic part, she isn't playing Ruth Cracknell, but the character of Maggie Beare. The same should be said for the other leads, as all three bring their own, contemporary spin to these strongly – focused and well – rounded personalities.
Excellent supporting roles feature Kelli Rode as Arthur’s sweet and patient new love interest, Anita. Robyn Arthur is Monica, the authoritative yet befuddled resident Maggie meets in aged accommodation. Sharon Davis is Karen, the no – nonsense community care advisor. Jade and Dylan Redman convincingly play Bronte and Jarrod Beare, Robert and Liz’s spoiled – rotten children.
Shaun Gurton’s versatile set is reminiscent of the original series. A concealed central turntable allows for several scenes set outside the Beare residence. Lighting design by Nigel Levings, costumes by Esther Marie Hayes, sound design by Kelvin Gedye and music by Ash Gibson Grieg all add real atmosphere to the production.
Standing free on its own merits, Mother & Son is a highly amusing play that anyone with a complex and challenging family dynamic can relate to and appreciate. Like the series that preceded it, the show will have mass appeal and could easily transfer for international audiences to also enjoy.
If its rousing standing ovation on opening night is any indication, Mother & Son is surely set for a long run.