Produced by RibbitRePublic Theatre and being performed for Ukraine Fringe, ‘How I Met my mother’ is a solo performance by Jonathan Paterson. Directed by Vanesa Quesnelle the show is an autobiographical narrative of one man’s experience of living with his mother who has Dementia.
The story telling is on point from the opening of the show- Paterson is immediately charming, warm and engaging. Stage presence comes naturally to Paterson and the audience are captivated. His storytelling is relayed both in the present time and also in the past as he alternates between the two which works well as he relays his story with nothing held back. The show provides an insight into Paterson as a performer also through his honesty in relation to his ADHD, explaining this to the audience as he closes a door on stage seemingly not being able to carry on without doing so.
In ‘How I Met My Mother’, Paterson shares the tale of his youth and of having a somewhat reckless childhood with the audience. He passionately tells tales of driving a car underage overnight until the early hours and an epic food fight at home with his new friends in an effort to prove he is ‘bad ass’ and needs to behave like this so he will no longer be bullied.
Paterson shares the effort he makes to become his mother’s carer which demonstrates an absolute commitment on every level and how he learns ‘on the job’ with aspects of caring for her. He recognises how musical memory is strong in dementia and shares how his mother remembers jingles from various adverts on the television enabling unique communication with her.
The most powerful part of the performance is demonstrated when Paterson searches for his Mum when she went missing and how ironically if it wasn’t for this then she would not have moved further up the list for a care home. He portrays a desperation and a yearning for her to return which she does as she remembers a phone number. The relief is palpable when she is brought back by the police.
Although this is essentially a one-person narrative Paterson nevertheless ignites imagination through his miming on stage. It is impossible not to gain an image of the story he tells – his actions are powerful and demonstrate every description to perfection.
Despite a dull looking stage with visible sound speakers and a random plug on the wall, Paterson commands the stage and it is hard to keep your eyes off him throughout the entire performance.
Paterson may have failed numerous times to get his mother to ‘smoke a joint’ as she supported him on his numerous Fringe tours, but he is successful in sharing a poignant tale of love through heartbreak and comedy in equal amounts as he cares for her. ‘How I Met My Mother’ is a must watch and will relate to many people as it delivers not only an emotional story of a mother and sons relationship but also a personal story of the developing maturity of Paterson as a carer as he starts to understand her deeply as she deteriorates with her dementia.
Reviewer: Angela Kelly
Reviewed: 22nd August 2023
North West End UK Rating: