Mother May We

Kate Young
1st Oct 2022

When we experience something traumatic, the mark that it leaves is a like fingerprint on our memories. Just like human
fingerprints, these shapes are detailed, unique in size and once engraved into ones skin they are difficult to alter. Over the life of an individual, these resilient prints become long-term markers on a person’s identity.
In Mother May We, Mel Ree sends out a poetic call to self-healing, delving deep into her mind and heart and emerging having reclaimed herself, her identity and her memories. Proving once and for all that we can alter the hold that these memories have on us just by remembering.

The performance begins in darkness, as we hear a childlike voice cry out, abandoned by her mother. When the spotlight hits and Ree’s sheds the cloak that covers her, we learn that this is the defining moment that would forever change her life. The next 60 minutes follows that journey of self discovery and finding “her” people, Ree’s finds the power to love herself and to stop holding on to that hollow space that she’s kept aside for an absent mother, instead filling it with the love of her own chosen family.

Ree’s has a way of inviting you in and wrapping you up with her story telling. The dialogue flow is conversational at times, but majority follows with the skills of a beat poet, free in verse, surrealistic in imagery and full of spirituality. I was captivated from the very beginning; her beguiling body movements are equally as hypnotising as her words. Ree’s mentions that her ancestors were witches and well I was under her spell tonight. This show is like a psychedelic trip, a kaleidoscope between her factual memory and emotional memory, we waft in out of Birthday parties, rave scenes, disastrous booty calls, ceremonial offerings, train journeys that turn into spiritual awakenings with ancestors she will never meet, Altercations with Karen’s who turn out to be saints and my personal favourite as a bathroom cheer squad to a recently dumped girlfriend. As vast as these scenes sound from one another, the transition between them was seamless, so much so I felt like I was just floating throughout the entire performance. I feel like this was also made possible by the amazing Light work of Frankie Clark and Projection Design of Nema Adel. The ability to be transported to so many places was truly magical. Another special mention has to go to Georgia Harper for her costuming as it too tells the story of Ree’s journey. From minimalist blacks (The suspenders I must say are defiantly a sexier spin on rehearsal blacks) commenting on Ree’s lack of identity, to the small adding of high heeled boots, as she tries on all these costumes she starts to learn more and more about herself. There’s the Digital mask, reminiscent of a tribal mask one of her elders may have worn, becoming a warrior on the dance floor at a rave. At one stage Ree’s almost bares all to adorn herself in ceremonial garments, one of the tenderest moments of the night, you could feel her yearning to be part of this inherited culture that also originates with the weight of shame. The final garment of the night being that of celebration, a pink floral garment, too showing that the sun is shinning upon Ree’s allowing her to bloom.

Despite its darker undertones, Mother May we is an incredibly joyful performance. Its about one woman’s courage to find her voice and tell her story, leaning that you can turn your pain into power. Mel Ree is captivating, smart, witty and laced with a sharp tongue that will just as quickly whip you as it will tongue bath you down. What inspires her is telling the utter truth, reclaiming one’s shame, so you can be released by it. Her greatest hope is that by speaking her truths she can reach those with similar lived stories, to make someone else feel like they aren’t alone. Telling stories together to create a safe space, where one can feel loved and accepted.

When you’re a child and you're developing an understanding of the world, it’s your childhood experiences that shape your perceptions of what is safe and who/what you can trust in this world. When our earliest experience of love is our parents and they are neglectful, cold and dismissive, this makes sense for us that our world too, is going to be cold and neglectful and unsafe. It shapes the way we start living and experiencing the world.

What Mel Ree gives to us is the knowledge that we can all live, by leaving behind that which binds us. Only then can we open the door to a very different world. The mind is not static. The brain, and the memory it uses, its a work in progress; we are not now who we were then... and so it is my love…the truth