HUMOUR and tragedy is the most enviable mix we can hope for in a work of art, so I was thrilled to be a part of the audience at Tommy Bradson’s The Men My Mother Loved, where he seamlessly delivered both.
With his monologue soaring to serious poetic heights and iconic 80’s music from the likes of Nick Cave, Paul Kelly and AC / DC, Bradson tells a story of a mother who bore a bastard son.
Though her heart had exponentially grown, her life of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll had stayed the same. The veteran writer and performer takes his personal history, coloured in extreme tragedy and exceptional brilliance, and pours it into a fictitious narrative of a boy coming to terms with this mother, whose prime motivation in life, and reason for his existence, was being a groupie.
His father could have been any front man or lead guitarist from any number of Australian bands, “men with voices like syrup who throw sparks against the air”, but this is not a story of a boy finding his father in seedy Sydney clubs or on the city’s trash-ridden streets. It is one of dedication to a loving, flawed mother. Bradson is an intuitive singer and elegiac storyteller, but his true art seems to lie in the way he can tell a story with his eyes.
During his delivery of rock band Dragon’s “Are You Old Enough” he looks into the distance and brings a convincing pain to the song as previously unimagined.
The only negative in this compelling one-man musical drama is that it ends too quickly, there is no climax and therefore no resolution of plot. It feels like it stops mid-stream. Still, this is a memorable show and Bradson has a demanding presence that gets you where it counts – in the belly, in the back of your throat, in the tapping of your toes.
Tonight is the second and final performance and my recommendation is to get off the couch and get to the Festival Centre. Allow your heart to skip a few rhythmic beats.
By Heather Taylor Johnson, for FLINDERS IN DAILY