As more and more women join the comedy circuit, there are more and more shows that centre on motherhood. This is not because women themselves are obsessed with motherhood, but society is obsessed with cis-women’s reproductive organs and their sell-by date. So Tiff Stevenson’s show Mother is not alone in addressing motherhood, but it is one of the few that address step-motherhood.
We all know the traditional wicked stepmother trope, but in case you’re a bit rusty on it don’t worry because Stevenson gives us a rundown, accents and all. Which leads on to the question of how to raise a step-child, Stevenson is step-mother to her fiance’s son and this brings up various concerns, such as how do you bring a boy up in 2019 to be feminist and when’s the right age to teach them how to make and serve cocktails? Stevenson has good reason to bring up the men whom she loves in her life and I suspect a few feminists will understand her reasoning.
Feminism is not the only theme of this show though. There is also the problem of class in the UK. Stevenson questions where she might be had she been brought up middle-class with the tones of Joanna Lumley, instead of working-class surrounded by people with two first names instead of two last names. Would she have been given the opportunity to ‘fail upwards’ or would she still have had to make tough decisions, such as the decision to terminate a pregnancy at 17 with her drug dealer boyfriend, in order to beat the system designed to oppress her. Ultimately the running theme here is lived experience and its validity depending on who is living it. If it’s happened to a woman then you can expect to meet with scepticism. If it happened to a working-class woman then it didn’t happen.
I’d like to highlight how the subject of abortion is handled in this show, because I thought Stevenson dealt with it brilliantly. Without any judgement, self-pity or cold matter-of-factness. I’ve not seen anyone on stage discuss the topic so well. Even if her openly pro-choice stance has caused an anti-choice group in America to boycott her Edinburgh show, she is struggling through.
These are all tough subjects that can be hard to make funny, but Stevenson seemingly effortlessly does. This is a beautifully written, hilarious show that I absolutely loved and will be recommending to everyone I see at the Fringe.
Also, make sure you bring cash money to this show because you will want the tote bag. Don’t be empty-walleted and toteless like me.
Tiff Stevenson: Mother is at Monkey Barrel, Barrel 3 at 21:15 until 25th August. For tickets and more information click here!
There’s still time to nominate a women-led show for the 2019 Funny Women Awards’ Best Show Category! The show with the most nominations will be picked! Nominate a show you have seen or your own show by 31st August here!