If It’s Not one Thing, It’s Your Mother

Written by:

Helen Escott

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:

D/deaf, Disabled, and/or Mad

Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 2
  • Women: 5






120 min.

Year Written:



At the Murphy and Ryan wedding, everyone is hiding a secret. But who is telling the truth? Grab a piece of wedding cake and get ready to do the Bird dance as hilarity ensues. There is nothing like a traditional Newfoundland wedding!

Elizabeth is desperate to move out, away from her controlling mother. When she spots a guy in the supermarket loaded down with cat food and frozen dinners, she sees her out. Six weeks later, we are at their wedding.

Sarah, the younger sister, dreams of living in Toronto, but both Elizabeth & her mother tell her that according to the Newfoundland ‘Constitution’, the last child left living at home must stay and take care of their mother for the rest of her life.

This dream wedding soon turns into a nightmare when things don’t go as planned. Combine a mother who can’t let go, with a father who can’t wait to let get, two daughters who want to run away, and two sons who refuse to leave the nest, and you have the mother of all plays!

If It’s Not, One Thing, It’s Your Mother, is a comedy that centers around Newfoundland tradition as it collides with a new generation.


Mrs. Mary Murphy (Mother): Is a widower in her late sixties. She is a bitter, tough old bird who never holds back what she is thinking. She rules her two daughters like a police sergeant imposing herself on every aspect of their lives. She also likes to be the center of attention. She waves around the Catholic guilt like a switchblade, but she is hiding an unholy secret!

Elizabeth Murphy (Bride & Oldest daughter): She is quick witted and saucy. She is also desperate to get out from under her mother’s control. At 30 years old, she is dying for freedom and is scared to death that she will have to care for her mother for the rest of her life. She likes getting her sister Sarah all riled up. She says she is in love but is she telling the truth?

Sarah Murphy (Youngest daughter): She is the naive younger sister of the bride and maid of honour. Sarah has big plans to move to Toronto and get a job. Her plans keep getting derailed because of her mother who is afraid to let go and her sister plots to make her stay home. Once she realizes she may be stuck, she looks for every opportunity to get out no matter the cost. But can she really leave?

Ed Ryan (Groom to Elizabeth): He is a thirty-year-old loner. He only had one girlfriend and has given up on the idea of marriage until he met Elizabeth six weeks earlier. He is easily led. He lives with his father and brother. It is expected by the family that Ed, who is a bit slow, will stay home and take care of the father when he is old. By doing this he inherits his father’s house. Noone expected him to ever marry. But does he really love the bride?

Frank Ryan (Brother to Ed & emcee): He is thirty-five years old mooch bachelor who has a great Facebook life but nothing in real life. He advises Ed on important decisions although he can’t figure out his own life. Frank is the best man and runs the wedding. He’s about to get the fright of his life!

FATHER John Ryan (Father of Ed and Frank): He is in his early 60s, cranky, and cheap. He owns his own home and is proud of it. He throws the whole wedding party into a tizzy when he reveals a secret.

JACK (OF ALL TRADES – Female, D.J., photographer & bartender)
Jack has no connection to the family other than taking a shift at the community center to work a wedding. She transitions from being the D.J., to the photographer to the bartender. She is quick witted fast talking. She has few lines but loves to get a few zingers in when talking to the wedding guests. She changes hats a lot.


The play can be accessed through the Canadian Play Outlet.