Recently I had the pleasure of watching (un)becoming, an online production directed by Sim Yan Ying and Nabilah Said. (Un)becoming centers around the theme of motherhood, and it's explored through four main characters: Eggkeykey, the narrator of the story who has lost her mother, Elaine, who is having problems connecting with her daughter, Rina, who is aching for independence, and Dewi, a doula that Rina confides in.
This show utilizes an interactive format in which we view that the characters are looking at on their devices as a way to get to know them better and what they're dealing with at that point in the story. Eggkeykey's curiousity about having a mother is shown by her Internet searches. She scrolls through a bunch of TikToks, which feature mothers and daughters. One of them is about an abandoned duck egg at a park, which closely mirrors her situation, since she is without her mother as well and she undoubtedly feels abandoned and alone. She searches "do I have a mother" on Youtube, and scrolls through a video of a book that she at first thinks is a children's book based on the illustrations, but turns out to explain how reproduction works.
The concept is motherhood is explored also through characters that aren't related being motherly to each other, whether it's Dewi to Rina, Rina to Eggkeykey, or Eggkeykey to Dewi. These portrayals as well as the relationship between Elaine and Rina show that motherhood can happen even if you're not related to someone, and sometimes you can mother someone who's older than you. The scene with Rina and Eggkeykey shows that helping out someone more vulnerable than you can bring out your motherly traits. The two of them are on video-chat with each other, and Rina tells the story of mitochondrial DNA. She assures Eggkeykey that we all have the same message inside us, and although her mother is not here, she is connected to her in that way, as well as to every woman. Rina experiences character growth in her comforting Eggkeykey, with the line, "She's far away now. But she's proud of you and how far you've come and you have everything you need to continue your journey."
In another scene, Eggkeykey encounters Dewi, who is alone on a slide and in distress. Eggkeykey offers her a hug, and says typical things that mothers would say to their daughters, even though it didn't fit the situation at hand, such as "don't wear too short a skirt", and "don't forget to wear a jacket, it's cold. The subtle reverence of these things that Eggkeykey shows illustrates that even though most daughters, such as Rina, who still have their mothers around, may find these annoying but Eggkeykey has a respect for them because that would mean they're coming from a mother who is around, and cares. Even though Eggkeykey is a ten-year-old child and Dewi is a middle-aged woman, Dewi was feeling sad and vulnerable, and Eggkeykey recognized that and took on motherly traits in order to make her feel better.
During Elaine and Rina's rough patch, Rina confides in Dewi. Dewi is who Elaine goes to for information about her daughter. The two of them spend a lot of time together, as we can see from Dewi teaching Rina how to play guitar online. Rina feels comfortable enough around her to vent "At nineteen, I feel like I don't need her as a mother." Dewi also gives Rina the hard truth when she needs it when she says, "You care so much about saving the Earth, but what about the mother who gave you life?"
Elaine and Rina reconcile after Elaine helps Rina remove a menstrual cup that was stuck in her. This experience taught Rina that she will always need her mother no matter how old she gets, and compels her to be gentler with her. She goes back to an email that she was going to send to Elaine that was primarily placing the blame on her and changes the message to "We both need space." This shows that even though she is more empathetic and loving towards her mother, she can still do so while fulfilling her desire of moving out, and it's completely okay to take the space that she needs.
Eggkeykey ends the show by recapping the other womens' experiences and offering them advice. To Elaine, the warrior, who spent a lot of the show worried about her daughter, she advises to take time for herself. To Dewi, the Healer, she emphasizes that weakness can be a superpower. She encourages Rina, the Rebel, to find her purpose in life. She then asserts that all of them are filled with genetic lodes of their descendants.
With this production YY and Nabilah Said causes us to dig into the idea of what it means to be a mother, and to the extent that all women mother each other. In the vein of YY's other productions, there are moments of happiness and comfort among heavier scenes, and visuals to hammer in the feelings of the characters. When you're able to experience things through their eyes, we're able to draw more subtle conclusions about who they are, draw parallels, and be in there with them in this story about the interconnectedness of women and the not so rigid idea of motherhood.