MOM:ME at the Korzo, part of CADANCE 2019 in The Hague

They fuck you up, your mum and dad, they don’t mean to, but they do.

Philip Larkin’s shrewd observation defining one of the prerequisites for being an artist presupposes that if you have kind, caring parents then you are, as an artist, well and truly fucked – not having anything to rail against or be troubled by.

Ryan Djojokarso only had a single-parent mother but she really did fuck him up and seems to have done a good job at setting her son on the road to creativity and providing a lot of valuable subject matter on the way.

Mr Djojokarso’s Mom:Me starts off peacefully enough with a teenage girl swinging on a suspended car tyre in front of a pretty wooden cabin. Thanks to a voice-over (the artists himself, I suppose) we learn that she is fifteen and is pregnant. She is Ryan’s mother and he hopes she won’t mind him telling the story.

Jump a few years and we discover mother and teenage son still living in the same shack and the conflict is evident. Mom:Me takes us through the desperate, often violent relationship, until its, sort-of, happy ending.

It was nicely done and the characters are well defined. We have young mother and mature mother, played by Kalin Morrow and Gerty Van de Perre and the gangly adolescent convincingly played by Jochem Eerdekens. The mother has rejected the child and it is the resulting struggle to find love and affection that is the subject of the piece. All the while, somewhere in the background, the spirit of the younger mother hovers, clutching the new-born baby.

The simple set designed by Davy van Gerven works well and Ate Jan van Kampen’s lighting is instrumental in creating the various moods, as was the beautifully restrained music/soundscape by Jorg Schellekens.

The high-spot of the entire show was undoubtedly the rain that fell on the stage for long periods. It was real rain – it looked like rain, it sounded like rain and it even smelled like rain. During the first downpour mother and son sat quietly in the hut as the storm raged outside while, in contrast, the one inside was momentarily suspended.

This work deserves a lot of praise but I have to say I thought it rather too long. The scene described above was very static and while the rain was incredible, it wasn’t enough to justify the scene’s length; like-wise, the subsequent scene of the mother and son’s running fight sequence, rolling through the puddles. It was strikingly done and very disturbing but its impact was slightly diminished by going on a little too long. Nevertheless, with a bit of judicious pruning Mom:Me would be an excellent piece of dance/drama.       Michael Hasted   26th January 2019

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