As the lights went down on venues across the UK, Theatre Adhoc played a theatrical swansong with its performance of Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should at the Congress Theatre, Cwmbran. Presented to a small studio audience, this award-winning play following the lives of four women, examines the intricacies of family relationships and explores themes of independence, jealousy and secrecy.
Catherine Clarke, Julia Swain, Miriam Lusk and Molly Pugh took their characters Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie on a journey through the twentieth century, against the backdrop of the changing societal expectations of women.
My Mother Said I Never Should is the most performed play by a female playwright worldwide and has an unconventional structure, with scenes played out of chronological order and with mystical “waste ground” scenes scattered throughout the drama. The play opens in the waste ground where all four characters meet as children and discuss how to kill their mummies, setting up the dominant theme of strained mother-daughter relationships.
Director Jon Hall created a stark and surreal set, cluttered with the possessions of the family, amassed over the years, as a backdrop to his exploration of the opportunities and compromises available to women as British culture evolved through the decades.
For Doris, born at the turn of the century, marriage led to the end of her successful teaching job and the automatic expectation of children. Margaret, her daughter, although initially insisting she will not have a family, soon finds herself balancing the roles of wife and working mother. When her own teenage daughter, Jackie, falls pregnant at art college, Margaret brings up the child Rosie as her own, enabling Jackie to become a successful artist. Ultimately, when Rosie discovers the truth, the walls of secrecy come crashing down and the characters must deal with the aftermath of these dramatic revelations.
Due to the coronavirus restrictions the play was sadly performed for just one night, with the following night’s performance at the Congress Theatre and three subsequent nights booked for the Dolman Theatre having to be cancelled. However, the studio audience were buzzing after the performance and expressed their gratitude that they were able to be there the night the curtain came down on British Theatre’s extended interval.