Motherhouse, by David Fennario, was a very surprising play. Based on the lives of female factory workers in Montreal during the first World War, I was expecting the play to be a grim and somber tale about life off the battlefields. However, while I was relatively correct about the subject matter, the actual tone of the play was quite the opposite. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a play presented this informally. Most of the story was told to the audience in first person by the main character, Lillabit, making it feel less like a play and more like a story you would hear from a relative. The use of props was also kept fairly minimal, and what was there largely consisted of household items. This style, in my opinion, was the best way to convey a story like this. It helped you put yourself in the character’s shoes, and made the events seem that much more personal and real. If they didn’t make it clear from the start that the play was only loosely inspired by real events, it would have been easy to believe that Lillabit was a real person.
It was also surprising to see a story about World War I told from the perspective of the workers back home. Most war stories focus on the struggles and lives of the soldiers in the trenches, and not on the lives of the factory workers sustaining the war effort. It was also interesting seeing the French-Canadian perspective on the war, and how the multicultural aspect of Montreal split up the population. When learning about the World Wars in the US, most of the focus was kept on the American and European conflicts, so it was a new experience hearing about the effects that World War I had on Canada. Some aspects of Montreal culture were also apparent in the play. Some French dialog, while not crucial to the story, did help make it clear that the production came from a bilingual country. Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience seeing Motherhouse, and it certainly made me interested in seeing what else Canadian theater has to offer.
– Tim House, Game Programming Major, Spring 2014