|Volume 92, Issue 63
Wednesday, January 20, 1999
elmer the elephant
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Mobsters & Mexicans invade Mother Mary Molotov
Gazette file photo
By Tara Dermastja
What do a hit man, a Mexican shopkeeper and a fish boy have in common?
In Mother Mary Molotov, currently playing at London's Old Factory Theatre, these are roadblocks in a twisted and deceiving quest surrounding narrow escapes and good intentions.
Written and directed by Jason Rip, Mother Mary Molotov is the third production and directorial debut for the graduate of Western's English and drama program. His past productions have included Hollis Gets the Girl and Bob the Teapot, but with this show, Rip succeeds in absorbing his audience. With a sharp script and unreserved characters, this play combines dark comedy with religious frustrations and enough gun shots to make Dirty Harry seem like a tear-jerker.
Unlike some playwrights whose productions reflect the audience's anticipations, Rip sticks to his own beliefs and proves nothing ever works out as planned. There are twists to every line, gasps to every curse and two hours of almost continuous fixation.
Arthur Polly (played convincingly by stage veteran Jeff Culbert) has a vision from the virgin Mary. "Mother M.O.G," as he calls her, has appeared to him in a bathroom mirror and the message is clear. He must embark on a new path to improve his crooked life. With money stolen from his mob boss and after numerous unavoidable encounters, Polly travels to Mexico to help children who are abandoned in the middle of nowhere. With his two quasi-friends and a slightly irritated mob on his back, Polly's goal to better his life leads him through one disaster after another.
The ability to convince the audience of the reality of these rapidly changing scenes is also an example of the production's achievement. The simple surroundings of the black walls and small stage give the actors more freedom to display their abilities and persuade disbelievers.
Shawn Muir plays Polly's friend Reggie and does a comfortable job of creating pity for a character whose life has been less than blessed. "I'll be playing poker in the pit with Hitler," he comments, in an extremely convincing scene, as he attempts to change his ways like Polly. Michele Barnes' portrayal of the prostitute Desiree also teaches skeptics to enjoy her company, while Tim Culbert's acting range is highlighted by his appearance as four equally amusing characters. Western student Rachel Jones holds her own as both a grieving mother and a circus freak.
With curious costumes and non-stop one-liners, Mother Mary Molotov never fails to capture the audience's attention, especially with such characters as an adult who pees his pants and a nutritious psychopath.
On stage from Jan. 21 to 23, Mother Mary Molotov promises a night of confusion, humour and the occasional death. Instead of another evening on the couch, with popcorn and a movie, venturing to the Old Factory Theatre offers a taste of some real acting.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999