Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Absorbing drama spans the years

My Mother Said I Never Should

Swan Theatre Amateur Company

Swan Theatre, Worcester


CHARLOTTE KEATLEY'S classic drama of domesticity, now nearly a quarter of a century old, emerges brilliantly illumined in Chris Fulcher's studio production.

It covers 64 years and five generations of women – one of them a great-grandmother whom we have earlier seen as a thumb-sucking child – and in playing the generation game it is something of a challenge to its audience in its early stages. The cast of four, however, ensures that we quickly catch on, to become absorbed in the traumas that overtake a family whose members have clearly emerged from the same confident mould.

Jane Lush is Margaret, the grandmother. This is a beautiful, gentle, heart-warming performance. The voice is habitually quiet but we are left in no doubt about the turmoil within, much of it prompted by the illegitimate baby that she finds herself bringing up and who grows up regarding her as her mother. She is not helped by the fact that she has a job – and a husband, whom we do not see, who complains that he married a wife, not a working mother.


Margaret is strong – and she has to be, because there is also turmoil in her surroundings, much of it prompted by granddaughter Rosie (Poppy Cooksey-Heyfron), who is tough, strident and worried about nuclear war, not getting a job and whether or not teacher fancies her. Lisa Hill is Jackie – impractical Jackie, who nevertheless is apparently capable of fixing the boiler when the need arises. When it is time to face up to tragedy, it is Jackie who shares a particularly harrowing and sharply drawn scene with Rosie. 

Great-grandmother Doris is Michelle Whitfield, the observer of life, the dispenser of wry one-liners, the one who enjoys winding up the younger generation but says she doesn't want to be a nuisance to anybody.

These are four outstanding performances. It is a shame that we cannot see them in their entirety if we are not sitting in the front row, even though there is new raked flooring that was built only 24 hours before curtain-up, because the action frequently finds the actresses kneeling on the floor. But this is a price worth paying for an evening of excellent theatre. To 17.4.10.

John Slim


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