Currently, on its national tour, My Mother Said I Never Should, has been performed, and talked about all over the globe. Named one of the most significant plays of the 20th century, written by a woman, for women, and widely studied by colleges, universities and drama schools, it definitely sets a high expectation. Charlotte Keatley wrote the play in 1985 and since then it has been taken on by many directors, this time by Michael Cabot. I caught the play in Richmond Theatre, where it is currently running until 2nd March.
My Mother Said I Never Should, portrays the lives of four generations of women from the same family; Great-grandma Doris, Grandma Margaret, Mother Jackie and the youngest daughter Rosie. We witness their dreams, expectations, and failures come true, and secrets, that have been drowned in history, coming back to the surface. We also observe how mother-daughter relationships differ through time and are also influenced by it. The complex story requires a cautious eye, to be understood, as it often shifts between time periods, from one character’s childhood, to another’s adulthood.
Being quite a long story, it is repeatedly filled with conversations that don’t deliver very much to the plot, which is often frustrating as it makes it harder for the cast to maintain the chemistry between them. We see Judith Paris in the role of Great-grandma, Rebecca Birch playing the youngest daughter Rosie, and Lisa Burrows in the role of Margaret. They are all divine at successfully portraying the characters in the most suitable way for the play, but I want to shed light on Kathryn Ritchie who really succeeds in generating some of the most heartbreaking moments of the play, and really draws out the tragedy in her role as Jackie. Some parts of the play affect you hard, and others, fall flat on the ground. There are lots of foolish laughs throughout the show however, the performance does frequently lack the necessary passion and energy to be convincing.
The staging of the play is designed as a landfill-like backyard, full of things that are there merely for decoration. In this case, less would work wonders, since the jammed scenery often steals the spotlight from the performance. From the backyard to an apartment, imagining different environments becomes difficult since the scenery doesn’t change remarkably, although this is helped by the costume design, which marks the time period.
My Mother Said I Never Should is indeed a powerful play, which portrays remarkably strong women. It just lacks the flow that would make it run more smoothly, and which could help the audience to engage and sympathise with characters. However, one can easily see there was a lot of work put into it, and everyone can undoubtedly discover something to relate to.