Imogen Stubbs Says Mum's the Word About New West End Show

News   Imogen Stubbs Says Mum's the Word About New West End Show Imogen Stubbs is one of six actresses starring in Mum's the Word at the Albery Theatre, which begins previews March 8 prior to an official opening March 18.

Mum's the Word is not so much a play as a series of sketches, not unlike The Vagina Monologues, as Stubbs explained to Theatrenow.

What format does the evening take? "There are six chairs and six actresses, and we discuss, through monologues, how motherhood affects us."

You have Jenny Eclair in the class, which suggests that the show's a comedy. . . "It's being billed as a comedy, yes, but that's a bit misleading. As the evening reflects motherhood in its various forms, there are very funny parts, moments of sentimentality, and very sad parts — such as when Cathy Tyson's character describes the experience of giving birth to a premature baby who isn't expected to live."

What about the sort of glamorous mother who can afford nannies? "You don't have to be glamorous to have nannies, though they're not something everyone has. I'm lucky enough to have them — I've two children and three step-children — and I think you could have a fascinating series of sketches on nannies — Nanny's the Word!

"But although having nannies at home saves you from some of the numbingly boring aspects of child care — the school run and all that — you still spend a lot of very important time with your children, and do the fun things together." What audience do you think the show will appeal to? "Although I hope it'll be entertaining for everyone, it obviously speaks most to those who have had the experience of childbirth and bringing up babies. Which is why the original six actresses who launched the show in Canada collaborated on the piece in the first place. They'd all been through the experience and were either amused or appalled at how it changed them, and how their world went from that of work to that centered on small children."

So this is about the downs as well as the ups? "Of course! It's about how you get so tired that you can't finish sentences — literally can't finish them. And, in a way, it’s a revelation, it's saying 'you're not the only one who finds children maddening as well as loveable, not the only one to sometimes get bored out of your mind looking after them.' And it’s about how having children affects relationships — so it's a good thing for women to bring their partners to.

"There's no training for motherhood, no O level in it. You have to turn yourself into a cross between a Blue Peter presenter and a chauffeur and excel in things that you weren't trained to do. And all this gets reflected via the different characters in the piece. It's very much a sisterhood thing — and it has its moments of madness, too."

Like what? "The most outrageous scene is a breast milk fight. As a mother, you turn into this sort of milk machine, and the 'fight' sequence is a very funny taking of this to extremes. Some girls have used their breasts in the scene — I wield a bottle."

Sounds like something you'd find in a club in Hamburg! "Well, the show has done very well all over the place, and that may have something to do with it. But although it's about something a lot of people have shared, which is why there's a large potential audience out there, there's nothing predictable about it. It's much more than just a comedy, and that's why I hope people find it a really good night out.

"And, if they're mothers themselves, the good news is the show only lasts around two hours, so they don't need to pay the babysitter overtime!"