My Mother Said I Never Should
New Wolsey Theatre
A story of four generations of women, of the same family, and their lives through seven decades, how growing up through the eras of the 20s to the 80s from a woman’s perspective of next generation empowerment and how the mother/daughter relationships develop and mature when the daughters become mothers themselves. On top of life’s usual traumas including working women, a husband leaving, death, free love and drugs, Greenpeace and women wanting it all, this family are keeping a secret: Jackie (generation 3) gave up her daughter, Rosie (generation 4) and asked her mother, Margaret (generation 2) to bring her up as her own daughter. Which means generation 4 thinks generation 3 is her sister, when really is her mother. And the person she thinks is her mother (generation 2) is actually her grandmother. Still with me?
To be honest it did take a while to figure out the characters and how they fitted in with each other due to the story being told through different points in time – and it wasn’t a linear timeline – you needed a flexible mind to keep track. Fortunately, the actors played the same characters at the different ages, using clothing and hair to represent the older or younger version, which made it work and once it clicked for me, it wasn’t a problem.
The actors: generation 1 – Judith Paris; generation 2 – Lisa Burrows; generation 3 – Kathryn Ritchie; and generation 4 – Rebecca Birch, did remarkably well for getting into character for the different ages so quickly, and frequently with the many scenes and flashbacks. It must have been quite a challenging but enjoyable task.
It did tell a story however there was not much depth to it: Four women, all mothers and daughters – this is an instant recipe for high emotions as every woman would be able to empathise with more than one character and this play had the potential for all the woman in the audience to get the tissues out. Unfortunately, I don’t think there were any tears forthcoming.
There was, however, something missing. The story was interesting, albeit mostly predictable, I can’t fault the actors, the set design was quite creative – although not sure how relevant it was to many of the scenes (but I’ll happily admit that might be me missing the point). The missing element was the level of emotion. There were a lot of scenes, and some switches were quite quick, there was not much love shown between the mothers and daughters, they all had a stifled relationship, there was no closeness there and I’m not sure whether that was intentional. Only Doris (generation 1) had the more loving relationship with Jackie and Rosie, but that was only for a short time when they were girls. There was no warmth to the characters and I wasn’t able to engage or connect with them. The emotional traumas they experienced were glossed over too quickly to move the story along. It only hinted at the issues the characters faced in their lives.
You knew the main part of the story is going to be this secret coming out and how the characters are going to react, tissues at the ready……. but like the other potentially emotional scenes it didn’t move me to tears and wasn’t particularly moving. I was lost when all the girls were playing together.
Only a brave man would watch this play, if he did actually figure out what was going on, it may give a slight insight into what a mother does for her child, however it’s not for the male generations.
There were a couple of minor entertaining moments, however this is a serious drama, it’s not a feel good story.
‘My mother said I never should’…..never should what…?
New Wolsey theatre is always a delight, every seat is comfortable and with a great view. Facilities and staff are spot on.