MOTHER OF HIM at London's Park Theatre
Tracy-Ann Oberman as Brenda Kapowitz - photo Bronwen Sharp

Menorah candles, a symbol of the Jewish festival of light (Chanukah) - a time to rejoice. But this year, 1998, there is no levity in the Kapowitz household. The lives of single mother Brenda, younger son Jason and 17 year old Matthew are about to change forever.Once a happy family unit living a 'normal' life, normality will no longer be the name of the game. And the reason? Matthew has for some inexplicable and irrational reason stepped out of character as a gentle, gangly 17 year old teenage son and fun older brother. He has raped three girls in one night and now is under house arrest awaiting sentence.Of course the entire family will be sentenced alongside him by society. Brenda will forever be branded as the 'mother of him', blamed for poor parenting and their past behaviours analysed;innocent schoolboy Jason will bear the stigma and be prey to bullies in his future.

1998 was a period where technology was becoming more prevalent but where the social media had not yet taken off. As such the source of news was via newspapers and journalists were voracious in their appetite for juicy, newsworthy stories that would sell their publications. Here in this leafy Toronto suburb is a Jewish family whose cultural traditions have been torn apart. This will make a great editorial and the media will sacrifice the whole family in their coverage.

How will Brenda cope with leaving the grey, austere confines of her home to face the daily onslaught of the jackals at her door? How will Jason manage the flashing cameras as he leaves for school? And it is no easier indoors. The phone rings incessantly with threatening calls and mail drops continually through the letter box, with messages of hate and condemnation. Advised by her friend and legal advisor, Robert Rosenberg, she must ignore them and not react.

Despite all this Brenda will do all she can to protect her sons. Jason must not be scarred and Matthew must receive the best legal advice and representation she can offer. But of course he is guilty and like other families who have endured this trauma, so will she. I am brought to mind of Eva and Kevin in Shriver's novel. Life is changed indelibly. So, how far can unconditional love stretch? Can resentment and anger towards her older son be re-directed?

Watching Brenda as she lights the menorah candles and sings the blessing with her sons, there is anguish and suffering etched on her face. Where and why did this all go wrong?

With strong performances by Tracy-Ann Oberman as Brenda, Hari Aggraval as Jason and Scott Folan as Matthew, Evan Placey's Mother of Him' offers an intelligent insight inspired by a true story. Directed by Max Lindsay and with a fully committed cast, we are drawn into the awfulness of their situation. We ride the waves with Brenda as she berates herself and teeters on the edge,somehow pulling herself back to move forward. We understand the reaction of little Jason as he storms against his mother, powerless to do anything else and somehow we feel pain for Matthew, knowing that he has ruined his life.

A sombre set, a sombre story which resonates and compounds that we should not take life for granted, but value it. As Brenda says, 'All you can do is stand by. Watch them fly, or watch them fall, but be there.' This 2 hour production (including a short interval) pulls no punches and is strong viewing which offers no answers as such but raises plenty of questions.

Listings

Dates 18 September to 26 October 2019
Venue Park200, Park200, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Times Mon-Sat 7.30 pm, matinees Thurs & Sat 3 pm
Prices £18.50 - £32.50 with concessions when available
Box Office 020 7870 6876 (10% fee capped at £2.50 per ticket)
Social Media
Website: www.parktheatre.co.uk
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Suitable for ages 16+