Monday, 9 September 2019

AMATEUR THEATRE REVIEW: My Mother Said I Never Should - The Garrick Theatre, Stockport.

Despite being born in London, Charlotte Keatley studied drama at the Victoria University of Manchester and has worked as a journalist for such publications and outlets as Performance Magazine, The Yorkshire Post, The Financial Times and the BBC. Her first play, 'My Mother Said I Never Should', written in 1985, was first performed at the Contact Theatre, Manchester, in 1987, and won both the Royal Court/George Devine Award and the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best New Play. The play was revised for a successful run at the Royal Court Theatre in 1989, and in the year following she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer. It has since been studied as an A-level set text and subsequently been translated into 22 languages and has become the most performed play in the English language written by a woman.

Now, that play comes back to Greater Manchester, performed brilliantly by/at Stockport Garrick. With a somewhat confusing scene-list that jumps from era to era (from 1940-1987 and then 1923), it is, for the most part, a poignant and nostalgic story of three generations of women, set in Cheadle Hulme, Moss Side and London. With constant presence of love, the fight for independence and attempts to forget childhood, as well as a mother’s jealousy after giving her daughter away to her own mother, this entertaining yet powerful piece is well written, performed and directed by Sarah Doyle.

Matriarch, Doris Partington (Elaine Pratt), provides lightheartedness and humour, supposedly projecting herself aged 40, 51, 61, 69 and 87 - although the wigs did not help with this - and even 5, in scenes as a child which she does surprisingly well. Sarah Field plays Margaret well too, although her portrayals as a 9 year old are not hugely convincing, but she does play 38 and 50s well. She, and maybe her mother, are the most real, believable and natural on-stage, as an adult.

Her daughter Jackie (Emma Toms) is a hippy-style, sometimes spoilt in her childhood scenes - aged 9 - but does well throughout. Although I didn’t notice the prompt used, there were a few occasions of overlapped lines and hesitance of delivery of the correct lines which was swiftly corrected. Her daughter, Rosie (Chloe Coates) is perhaps the most mature of the child-portrayed parts and, although a joy to watch, her rebellious streak as Greenpeace campaigner and anarchist was perhaps too mature for her age.

The sound was fine and the lighting good and the addition of songs like “Please Don’t Treat Me Like A Child”, “I WIll Follow When You Lead” and “Que Sera Sera” (in the interval), were genius. With reference to their partners or husbands, the delivery to each other by name helped to understand their relationships during the most complex of plot.

If you are local and want entertaining with a good bit of theatre, conceived in the region, this runs until 14th.

Reviewer - John Kristof
on - 7/9.19

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