Review: Like Mother, Like Daughter (Why Not Theatre/Complicite UK/Koffler Centre of the Arts)

like-motherMothers and daughters are paired on the Toronto stage for a unique not-quite-theatre experience

To be fair, Like Mother, Like Daughter (playing at 918 Bathurst) is very difficult to review. It’s not really a piece of theatre so much as it is a production or a spectacle or possibly an encounter group, in which mother/daughter pairs answer questions as honestly as they can while sitting at a table surrounded by an audience.

It is, however, very interesting to watch and to think about.

I found the four pairings well chosen, all mother/daughter sets in which the mothers were immigrant and the daughters had been born in Canada. They asked and answered various questions, ringing back and forth between accented English and unaccented.

A particularly interesting moment on the night I saw the piece (and every night has a different mix of women) was when all of the daughters were grouped together, and asked “Which of you speaks your mother’s mother tongue?” (Only one did).

The relationships between mothers and daughters seemed to have some range, from one pair that openly adored each other to a pairing that seemed to be trying to mend long, old rifts. I appreciated the choice by directors Rose Plotek and Ravi Jain to feature even mothers and daughters who were clearly still working their stuff out.

I noticed that the audience was made up largely of women – other mothers and daughters, I surmised, and some relatives of the participants, which made sense. But what really struck me was how difficult it was for the few men sitting around me to remain quiet while the women were talking.

Of the four men sitting around me, three interjected audibly at various times to comment on the answers and/or finish the sentences of the women onstage when they paused and two repeatedly used their smartphones. This, despite the fact we had all been cautioned that only the people at the table could speak. It was remarkable to me that they found themselves unable to yield the attention entirely, or even to just sit quietly and listen to women talk.

It’s a clear theme for Why Not Theatre, this business of parents, children, intimacy, difference and sameness, generation and generation, and it makes for interesting conversation. The piece is organized with a certain gravitas and I liked the idea that people (especially the mothers) who might not otherwise have considered themselves performers were emboldened by it.

I also thought about how much I would have liked to see it with my own daughter, now 21, and hear her thoughts, or take her and her mother to see it. Though not a play in the traditional sense, I nevertheless found it a novel and nourishing experience.


  • Like Mother, Like Daughter is playing at 918 Bathurst until October 30th.
  • Performances are Oct 28 & 29th at 8pm and the 29th & 30th at 2pm.
  • Tickets are $20, concession tickets at $15
  • Tickets may be had online only.

Photo of hands by Mary Anderson