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The Artist Man and The Mother Woman
a Comedy/Drama
by Morna Pearson

VENUE : Georgia Public Broadcasting (Studio B) [WEBSITE]
ID# 4737

SHOWING : June 04, 2015 - June 21, 2015



Grim human behaviour abounds in this toe curling black comedy about a thirty something man frozen in pre adolescence by his mother.

Director Kathleen McManus
Sound Installer Robert Drake
Stage Manager Jim Walsh
Edie Buncher Joanna Daniel
Geoffrey Buncher Doug Graham
Clara/Woman A/Woman B Jessica Fern Hunt
Evelyn Mandi Lee
Thomas Dan Reichard
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The Boy-Man and His Mum
by playgoer
Sunday, June 7, 2015
"The Artist Man and the Mother Woman" tells the story of a possessive mother and her fortyish art teacher son. The play is set in northeast Scotland, with the dialogue in the sometimes impenetrable Doric dialect. Luckily, the program contains a glossary of several unfamiliar terms contained in the script. Even so, some of the lines are likely to be only partially understood by American audiences.

It’s not the dialogue that’s the most baffling part of the script, however; the characters are. Geoffrey Buncher, as an art teacher, first comes across as a mentally immature boy-man, with the first mention of him going to school raising suppositions that he is a pupil at a special school. He’s not; he’s just a socially incompetent virgin who has been coddled by his mother. Edie Buncher, his mother, seems at first to be a more straightforward character, but the limits of her possessiveness reach inappropriate levels as the play progresses. Neither Doug Graham nor Joanna Daniel, as mother and son, makes their character come to full-blooded life.

The actors in the three minor roles come across better. Mandi Lee, as Sainsbury clerk Evelyn, does fine work as a former art student Geoffrey frequently interacts with. Dan Reichard, as neighboring widower Thomas, makes his character truly come to life. Jessica Fern Hunt does delightful comic work as Geoffrey’s potential dates. As his actual date Clara, however, Ms. Hunt isn’t sufficiently distinct from Woman B, particularly in looks. (A wig for one of the characters would have helped; a wig certainly gave Woman A a distinct look.)

Technical elements of the show are okay, with the cast providing their own costumes. Joel Williams designed set, lights, and sound, so they all mesh pretty well, but I can’t agree with all the design decisions. The artwork arranged on vertical wires extending down from a roofline doesn’t seem to have any consistent design sensibility. (Are they Geoffrey’s work from childhood on?) The sound design has layered radio broadcasts playing in the background at times, which can be distracting, and the set contains a revolving section of platform that is unnecessarily distracting in its set-up and take-down. When a play is made of up numerous short scenes that require cleanup or costume changes between scenes, design elements that delay scene transitions are probably best avoided. Director Kathleen McManus keeps things moving pretty well, but the frequent scene changes impart a leisurely pace to the whole, which is not welcome in a long one-act play.

The tone starts out generally comic, but turns serious in its final scene. The ending tells us everything we need to know, save one thing -- will the bubbly bath be coconut or lavender? If playwright Morna Pearson told us that, character development could be deepened, in one way or another. As it is, the play is just not compelling enough to justify its running time of nearly two hours. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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