Review: My Mother’s Chest

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My Mother’s Chest is the debut production by Stanley Ng and starring Audrey Luo. Written by Ng Sin Yue, this hefty monologue follows one woman as she reminisces over her mother’s chest (an actual box, not her torso) and explores her past of love and loss, and the relationship with her mother which made her the person she is today.

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Under director Jeffrey Low, Audrey Luo fully utilises and navigates the minimalist black box space, with a well designed intimate set by Chan Silei depicting the living room of a flat from a time long gone, and James Tan’s sparse lighting truly brought it to life. Our focus is on the chest itself, which Luo speaks of tenderly, a bastion for most of her memories and life experiences, as she takes out items to either dispose of or talk about fondly, most of which have a deep story behind them. As she tells more and more stories and gets lost in the reverie, she reveals her difficult family dynamics, with her mother giving her a hard time and placing much pressure on her. Although the mother-daughter relationship was strained, Audrey’s character always regrets never working things out, now that her mother is gone, and one’s thoughts hurtle towards our own parents, making a mental note to always make amends before it’s too late.

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Of course, not every item evokes a sad tale. Some of them are reminders of past victories, and Audrey’s expressive delivery and performance inched us closer to her character with each tale, and making us realise just how strong women can be in the face of hardship. Audrey’s performance was sincere and powerful, each story resonating with the audience as she took us on a journey to her past. Her every emotion could be felt, almost physically, and it was as if we were transported right to her living room, sharing in and reliving the memories alongside her.

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Photo credit: Jeffrey Low

Although her stories are unique to her character, the experiences were shared ones, and there was a kind of cathartic pleasure from watching her come to terms with the life she’s led so far through the memory of objects. Evocative and meaningful, My Mother’s Chest will leave you with a sense of nostalgia and an even greater appreciation for the relationships we’ve forged in life.

My Mother’s Chest plays at the Drama Centre Black Box till 4 December in Mandarin, with English surtitles. Tickets available here

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