My Mother Said I Never Should review, Connaught Theatre, Worthing: A must-see play for women

Many of the mainly female audience left the Connaught Theatre last night totally confused, following the first Worthing performance of My Mother Said I Never Should.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 8:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 10:56 am
My Mother Said I Never Should, from left, Rebecca Birch as Rosie Metcalfe, Kathryn Ritchie as Jackie Metcalfe and Lisa Burrows as Margaret Bradley

If only they had stayed for the post-show question and answer session with the fantastic cast, they would have learned so much, and realised just how much thought and work had gone into this clever play.

What was so interesting was to hear a group of GCSE students talking with the four actors, batting questions and discussions back and forth.

They had clearly thoroughly enjoyed the production and said it had helped them a great deal with a difficult text in the run-up to their exams.

The structure of Charlotte Keatley’s work, the most widely-performed play ever written by a woman, is deliberately designed to be non-linear – things do not happen chronologically or indeed always in a static time frame.

Although this can, and did, cause confusion, it also allows us to see the different women in different ways and at different times of their lives, all at the same time.

Doris Partington, played by Judith Paris, is the matriarch and has to show a full range of ages from around five right up to being a great grandmother.

Margaret Bradley, played by Lisa Burrows, is Doris’ daughter and somewhat of a disappointment to her.

Jackie Metcalfe, played by Kathryn Ritchie, is Margaret’s rather wild daughter, a career woman who is unable to cope with the baby she has had with a married man.

Rosie Metcalfe, played by Rebecca Birch, is that child, brought up by Margaret and left unaware of her true parentage until a sudden death forces the issue.

Rebecca has the smallest age range to cover, from about eight to 16, but she was most notable in the different voices she chose for each decade.

This really is a play for women, really reflecting their ordinary lives, the relationships between generations and the powerful effect of duty.

The emotions were palpable and all four actors told us afterwards just how hard it is to play, not only physically, due to the many costume changes and time changes, but mentally, too.

Set designer Bek Palmer has an interest in immersive performance in unusual spaces and her clever creation for this play worked so well. It is all based on The Wasteground, a place outside time and space, and from there comes the various locations, including Doris’ house in Manchester, complete with piano.

There is a lot to take in, and almost certainly a lot you will not take in, but for women everywhere, this play is a must see.

There are two more performances in Worthing, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm today. Visit worthingtheatres.co.uk for more information.