Marie Hamilton on Madonna on the Rocks

Writer and performer Marie Hamilton brings her new one-woman cabaret to London and Brighton this spring. The tragicomedy examines the struggle to pursue your art, or any career at all, and be a
truly present parent at the same time. It’s about maternal rage, responsibility, and our fragile

The show plays VAULT’s A Pinch of Vault and Greenwich Theatre in February ahead of a run at Brighton Fringe in May. The cabaret, directed by Hildegard Ryan with compositions by Ben Osbornby, takes audiences through the hilarity and banality of motherhood and invites them to tackle their own prejudices, reflect on their relationships and fight for a fairer future for everyone.

Ahead of opening at A Pinch of Vault, we caught up with Hamilton to find out more.

Q&A with Marie Hamilton

What can you tell us about your show Madonna on the Rocks?

Madonna on the Rocks is dark, empowering and very funny new musical about motherhood and making art at the end of the world. It’s a joyous relinquishing of all the mama guilt and expectations society (and we ourselves) pile onto new parents.

It’s also stuffed with brilliant original songs: from Madonna and Kate Bush-inspired pop bangers to Peaches and Princess Superstar punk electronica, to soulful, bluesy Nina Simone.

It’s about our egos, our responsibilities, and our dreams. And the struggle to be an artist, or to have any sort of career at all really, and be a reasonably present parent at the same time. It’s also just a lot of fun.

What was the inspiration for the show?

I had a baby in 2022 and went through a period of real existential crisis. I didn’t know who I was anymore- and didn’t know if I could even still call myself an artist if there were no signs of being able to make any art. Characteristicaly dramatic, I felt like everything I’d worked for was destroyed, with no future in sight. And at the same time, I felt enormous shame and guilt for feeling that way.

I had so many conversations to that effect with other artist parents (and unfortunately predominantly women) who felt like they had to pull out of the profession when their careers were either just getting started or finally in a successful place.

Theatre is the industry I know, but it happens across all industries, even though we are told we can ‘have it all’ now. Even more dispiritingly, despite the arts being an outwardly progressive sector to be in, the lack of job security and prevalence of freelance working means that actually we’re actually in a far less protected (or progressive) position as parents.

This is in part about (and for) the generations of women who have had to put their own dreams aside to favour the dreams of the next generation. The problem is, in doing so, we unwittingly just reinforce these toxic cycles, and model for our own children that giving up is what mothers are supposed to do.

How does it feel to be taking it to A Pinch of Vault, Greenwich Theatre and Brighton Fringe?

I’m so excited to get it out on the road and in front of an audience. Despite it’s dark subject matter it’s a really fun, very funny and joyful show.

It’s also packed with absolutely banging tunes. I’ve just got back from Berlin (my first time properly away from my baby, and let me tell you, it was amazing) where I was making songs with Ben Osborn and Madeline Shann. I worked with them both on Polly (The Heartbreak Opera) our Britney and Berlin techno adaptation of John Gay’s banned sequel to the Beggar’s Opera (Pleasance, London 8th-11th May, and touring nationally.) and it was brilliant to get the band back together.

Is it daunting to be presenting such a personal work on stage?

It’s definitely daunting. Pretty terrifying actually. If you put something out there that’s so deeply rooted in your experiences, your darkest fears and most secret dreams and the world doesn’t like it… then it’s going to hurt.

But I think we have been secretive about this stuff for far too long. Generations and generations of women have felt they’ve had to hide their complicated feelings towards new motherhood behind a socially acceptable mask. We pressure ourselves to project this radiant, capable, super-mum exterior but in reality, much of that first year is spent feeling totally overwhelmed in milk-stained, peanut butter smeared pyjamas.

Having a baby has these glorious moments of intense wonder and joy but it’s also absolutely terrifying at times, and incredibly lonely, and mind-numbingly repetitive and boring. Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day, wiping up the same spilled Weetabix, and then pasta sauce and then yoghurt as you did the day before, going round and round and round the park.

When I was at my darkest point all I wanted was to hear that I wasn’t the only person feeling that way. I also really needed a laugh. So many new parents (most new parents actually) have felt that way. If by throwing the doors wide on my heart I can make sure other people feel a bit more powerful and brave and able to come out the other side, then that’s all that matters.

What do you hope audiences take away from the show?

I want them to feel empowered, joyous, and ready to fight for a fairer future for us all.

This show is for everyone, whether they have kids, are thinking about maybe, potentially having kids in the future, or if they’ve just been inside a womb at some point.

If we can make the people pushing the next generation around in prams feel braver, happier, less alone and more fulfilled- the world will be a better place.

Madonna on the Rocks plays The Glitch, London on 20 February, Greenwich Theatre, London from 21 to 23 February and Brighton Fringe from 21 to 25 May