Mütter [Mothers]

Director: Milena Michalek
Writer: Milena Michalek and the cast
Cast: Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer, Alice Peterhans, Daniel Jocic, Karim Taelab, Marwan Taelab, Tarek Taelab
Seen on: 14.11.2018

Being a mother and being a woman seems inextricably linked with each other. But what does that mean, exactly? And where does it affect us all? What about having a mother and being a mother and becoming a mother or not? Three women (Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer, Alice Peterhans) work their way through several roles and scenarios to figure that out.

Mütter is an interesting, essayistic play that works almost all of the time. It has a lot to say and says it with a sense of humor that I found very refreshing. It’s a really enjoyable play, despite getting stuck at times.

Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer and Alice Peterhans in the play.

The play doesn’t really have a plot or much of a structure – it moves from topic to topic by association, but always revolving around motherhood. This could get tiring, but somehow it wasn’t at all, moving along at a good pace to keep you interested through the romp. A big part of that success are the three actors who take center stage here (the four men who are also allowed to appear, are mostly background): they are absolutely fantastic as they switch gears as often as they switch roles and nail it all.

Unfortunately the play doesn’t always nail it. Some of the jokes fall flat, like when they go through a litany of “yo mama” jokes, dealing nicely with the “mama” part but not even considering the fat hate that is at least as much a part of those jokes. It also feels outdated when you talk about biology and gender and don’t include trans and non-binary perspectives here.

Claudia Kainberger, Anna Kramer and Alice Peterhans in the play.

Another element that sits very strangely in the play is the fact that three (or, depending on your definition and his background of which I know too little, even all four) of the men in the play are men of color, while the women are white. There is a certain element of white feminism just in this as the men are used so much as set pieces and don’t get a voice. It seems that race wasn’t particularly reflected on here (or if it was, the results of that reflection can’t be found in the play).

But the play has many other strengths and some of the scenes – like the very beginning; or the chanting at or rather the adjuration of the hole – will definitely stay with me. As will the entire play that was one of the most entertaining theater evenings I have had in a long while. Plus, they had really great coats. But more importantly: they have things to say that are worth listening to.

Karim Taelab, Marwan Taelab and Tarek Taelab in the play.

Summarizing: Engaging and challenging, albeit imperfect.

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