Mother (Moeder)

Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom
Barbican Theatre

Peeping Tom: Mother (Moeder) Credit: Oleg Degtiarov
Peeping Tom: Mother (Moeder) Credit: Herman Sorgeloo
Peeping Tom: Mother (Moeder) Credit: Herman Sorgeloo

Peeping Tom’s Mother (Moeder) is a warm, affectionate, dream-like sequence on the death of a mother. It is at times disturbing but the show also has a keen eye for humour even in the most difficult of moments.

The dance is visually striking, the lighting and soundscape very effective in underscoring its impact.

A mother breathes her last in a coffin lying on a raised surface in a glass booth at the back of the stage. A few people stand alongside the coffin. Other people look on from outside the glass booth.

The stage has become a museum of memories. There are family pictures on the walls. A painting bleeds, and another starts to eat a viewer. They are constantly being changed till by the end they all depict the father when he was younger.

Among the museum exhibits is a statue of an apparently naked man standing over a coffin (see picture).

As the museum closes, it is revealed to be a worker (Hun-Mok Jung) who walks off declaring, “it's a shit job”.

A man (Brandon Lagaert) who might be the son or a younger version of the father keeps trying to close the gallery for the night. He rescues a woman seeming to drown on the floor. We see no water but can hear her frantically splashing about.

He finds a girlfriend (Maria Carolina Vieira) amongst the visitors. They have a baby girl which is placed at its birth in an incubator for long years. Each time we see her, she is still naked but much older.

The short dance sequences are unsettling and even alarming.

A woman apparently carrying a crying baby calms the child by repeated somersaults while holding the child. Another woman (Marie Gyselbrecht) making love to a coffee machine is electrocuted. The woman survives the event, the coffee machine dies and is given a funeral cortège.

A particularly memorable dance is performed by a pregnant nurse (Yi-Chun Liu) in cap and gown who with long extended arms staggers bloody from an operation. The weird waving movements of her flexible, rubber-like body speak of dazed pain.

Events depicted in the show follow the surreal logic of a dream. Not everything makes sense but it is always entertaining and can leave you pondering its meaning long after you have left the theatre.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna