Exploring the inner girl inside every woman
PUBLISHED: 12:28 14 February 2019
Review: My Mother Said I Never Should, by Charlotte Keatley, London Classic Theatre Company, New Wolsey Theatre, until February 16
London Classic Theatre Company present Charlotte Keatley’s hugely successful 1987 play that traces the lives of four generations of mothers and their daughters. The main narrative is gripping kitchen sink stuff of illegitimacy, social class and secrets. Interweaving between all this is a dream like world, where the women find themselves linked forever as children, the little girls who live inside every women. In this well acted production, it’s the inner child whose hurt and betrayal that is always just beneath the surface, articulating the deep frustrations of these women and their sticky relationships.
The set, a wasteland, is a warzone of broken belongings, a sort of smashed up dolls house that the little girls use as their playground trying to make sense of their disempowered world. The main narrative plays within this and as we watch our protagonists grow up it is poignant that within this mess, the performance of motherhood is a battle between self and sacrifice.
Judith Paris gives an exceptional performance as Doris, the oldest mother in the play. Her character develops in a nuanced way, her physicality matching her journey. The relationship between Doris and Rosie (Rebecca Birch) is particularly well observed and Doris becomes more herself as she gets older. As Jackie, Kathryn Ritchie fully realises a character ill at ease coming of age in the early 1970s. Her character illustrates that motherhood is not easy in a society that demands so much of women and mirrors her own mother’s (Lisa Burrows) paradox. Nothing seems to change, but life goes on and forgiveness is acceptance of the umbilical cord that still binds them all. And that is something to celebrate.