Disturbingly funny

By Narelle Wood

With a title like Third Reich Mommie, I knew this performance was either going to be good, bad or completely bizarre; it was all three and didn’t disappoint. The storyline centres on the dysfunctional relationship between an ex-actress turned spy turned agoraphobic mother Bridgette (Christopher Bryant) and at-times sweet and at other times homicidal daughter, Cassidy (Trelawney Edgar).

Third-Reich-Mommie Credits Sarah Walker Photography

Caught in the middle of the neurosis is a sexually confused and charged boy, Jock (Nathan Burmeister), who’s captured the attention of mother and daughter, and the gestapo-esque housekeeper, Ada (Ashleigh Goodson) who juxtaposes her caring nature and sugary singing voice with random bouts of shouting in German.

The plot was initially hard to follow as it twists and turns in such a way that you know someone is up to something, but you’re not exactly sure what is afoot right up until the end when Bridgette Van Kamp’s sordid past and Cassidy’s ‘shining’ future is revealed.

The humour is, for the most part, completely inappropriate but also indiscriminate, targeting Jews, Nazis, homosexuals, Germans, mothers, fathers, and children, and the cast make no apology for this in their performance. Christopher Bryant’s physicality as well as his timing resulted in him delivering some of the show’s most controversial lines, jokes about incinerators and death camps, with comedic flair.

Daniel Lammin, the director, had warned us of some late changes due to unforeseen technical difficulties; the only thing I noticed was how smooth the lighting, scene and sound transitions were given the small number of people in the performance group. It was at times hard to hear, partly because of the acoustics of such a large room, partly the competing noise from the rest of the convent and partly the German accents.

For me Ashleigh Goodson stole the show, which was no mean feat given the strength of the other performers and the seemingly superfluous role that her character played. However it was Ada, and in turn Goodson’s portrayal of the character, that enabled me to slowly put together what appeared to be random schizophrenic conversations.

With good acting, bad characters and a completely bizarre storyline, it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for any future runs of Third Reich Mommie.

Venue: Abbotsford Convent, Rosina Auditorium CBD

Season: 16 – 25th January 2014