You know it’s great theatre when you alternate between raucous laughter, sobbing and sitting in complete silence within the space of two hours.
You know it’s great theatre when you can relate so much it hurts, yet, feel real pain for something you haven’t experienced.
You know it’s great theatre when the writer steps on stage and everyone gets on their feet to show their aroha and respect.
When themes of kindness are balanced with overwhelming cruelty that one mum endures because she is brave, raw and real enough to speak her truth and a truth of so many mothers over the world.
When understanding that there isn’t a universal way to parent, or a universal way to respond to sleep deprivation, or a universal way to cope, to get things done. But that however lonely we feel, however broken we might be, wherever in the world we might be – cursing that we haven’t slept a solid sleep in months – that funny, generous souls like Emily Writes continue to remind us that we are not alone at 3am or when we are covered in our baby’s vomit or poo.
That being a mum is exhausting, rewarding, confusing, exciting, terrifying and wonderful all in one breath. That we find ourselves holding our own breath when our babies struggle to breathe, struggle to feed, don’t sleep through the night or refuse their own bed.
That if we really, deeply care about building rather than burning our village we need to be able to share our struggles and our wins with other parents, not see these painful and proud moments as a competition. That we can and must meet other mums, other women, other people exactly where they are and how they are with offers of chocolate, wine and coffee, and simply hold a safe and gentle space for them to be their messy, lovely selves.
That parenting can be chaotic. That parenting can be sublime. That life can be messy. That life can be divine.
And the acting. Renee Lyons (Funny Girls, 800 Words), Bronwyn Turei (Go Girls, Shortland Street – The Musical) and Amelia Reid-Meredith (Shortland Street) are strong, versatile wāhine actors who represent the best and the worst of us with humour, grace and real skill. It was a delight to see Emily’s rants – her inner reality as a mum of two boys – brought to life with amazing physicality and energy. And funny as hell.
And great theatre is not only entertaining but a reminder, a release and a call to action. Let’s be kinder to ourselves and to others. Let’s be quick to support and slow (much, much slower – or better still, stop) giving unsolicited advice. Let’s remember that words matter.
Let’s not use words to harm, to abuse, to devastate, but to uplift, encourage and advocate.
Let’s keep making theatre like this. Let’s keep taking our friends along to nights out like this.
RANTS IN THE DARK
Written by: Emily Writes
Adapted for the stage by: Mel Dodge, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford & Bevin Linkhorn
Director: Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Actors: Renee Lyons, Bronwyn Turei, Amelia Reid-Meredith
Theatre: Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna