Star Rating: ****
Monkey Barrel Comedy – Venue 515
9-12 Blair Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QR
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 10th August 2019
Tif Stevenson: Mother can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 2nd – 25th August 2019, 21:15pm (55 minutes) at Monkey Barrel Comedy. Age category: 14+. £10
How do you define being a Mother? Is their only one description – the biological mother or are other, broader definitions equally valid? Is it more important to be a good mother than merely have the title of biological mother, who may not be all that good a parent or even be completely absent from a child’s life? In a very personal and revealing show from Tiff Stevenson she makes clear that from her perspective, there is more than one, binary definition of a mother.
Whilst yet to give birth to a child of her own and recognising that that ship might be sailing further away, it’s clear that she is content with her lot. She respects and enjoys her important maternal role as step mother to her 11 year old step son who perceives her as mum. That she may not be his biological mother isn’t critical to the positive role she is fulfilling in raising the next generation.
This was a cleverly put together show that within an hour covered not only motherhood, but the fact she’s now 40 and the sound of that metaphorical biological clock is getting ever louder. There’s an added poignancy, for Stevenson had an abortion aged just 17. You sense perhaps the natural regret, with hindsight, of having been that close to becoming a young mum, but choosing to pass on it.
She doesn’t feel left out by this and nor should other non-parents she said as she reminded her audience of the meaningful roles out there for step mum’s, teachers, aunts and influencers on children in so many other ways than that of the traditional mother. It takes a village as they say. One might add that all of the above, except the ticking clock, applies to men too, as many of them, in this era of broken families, find themselves being stepfather’s to children.
Notwithstanding this more serious, reflective subject matter, there was no absence of her purpose for being on stage, for there was an abundance of jokes and wisecracks flowing non-stop throughout the show. This made for a superb, thought provoking night of prime time Saturday night Edinburgh Fringe entertainment. Stevenson’s wonderful array of accents, including American and Russian, were a joy to behold.
On top of this, Stevenson covered white male privilege – the kind that, naming no names here, allows relatively simple, now famous, uneducated men from wealthy middle-upper class backgrounds to repeatedly fail and still get further very good opportunities in life, which just wouldn’t happen if you were working class and female for instance. You might add the same applies in football management when the same faces appear on the managerial merry go round, unless you happen to be a black manager, when one relatively poor season at a club, could spell the end of your managerial career.
For a working class woman she’s doing very well as indicated by her amusing “elephant in the room” story re meetings with LA big wigs.
Although I found the show to be at times overtly crude and sweary, there’s a winning warmth about Stevenson’s delivery that draws you in, as evidenced by the regular smiling as her preferred method of seque-waying between jokes.
Stevenson’s keen to be inclusive which is appealing. She’s a strident feminist but at pains to point out that she loves men and that being pro-feminist doesn’t equate to not wanting the best for men and boys too. After all, what mum doesn’t want the best for her little boy?
One of the most popular, viral, examples of her feminism came through when recounting the story of the coffee shop tweet she posted regarding the Barista who refused to serve coffee to a pregnant woman as he believed it would be unhealthy for her. *** Fact checking alert: The NHS recommendation is for pregnant women to limit themselves to drinking no more than 2 cups a day so the woman may have been within this range. Advice from the American Pregnancy Association indicates that the less caffeine consumed the better … so on balance the man’s advice wasn’t misguided at all – it’s simply that he assumed the woman didn’t know (or knew and wasn’t concerned) and was about to exceed the recommended daily intake. *** Stevenson unleashed a torrent of invective and humour re this ‘mansplaining Barista’ who she felt went beyond the scope of his role by issuing health advice. Whilst I’m no expert on the subject, a very cursory look into this does seem to indicate the Barista was correct and I’m not sure one needs to be a Consultant or medical specialist to know that caffeine can harm an unborn baby. Accurate knowledge on a subject can come from unqualified sources too, so it seemed but unfair to target him in this way wanting the best for one of his customers.
This was a very funny, riveting hour of comedy in Stevenson’s company. Whilst she may feel the clock indeterminately ticking down, it most certainly is for you too if you haven’t seen this show, as the clock stops on her run at the Edinburgh Fringe on Sunday 25th August 2019. Starting at 9:15pm it’s one of the later shows of the day, so if you’ve had a busy day seeing shows at the Fringe you may need some caffeine to stay awake – pregnant women excepted of course!
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
- Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews – August 2019