Charlotte Keatley’s play My Mother Said I Never Should receives a refresh in this new production, created in association with fingersmiths theatre company. Fingersmiths explores challenging and entertaining ways of presenting theatre that previously has not been available to D/deaf audiences in their own language. Here, Keatley’s award-winning 1987 play is adapted to consider the lives of D/deaf women, adding an additional layer to the original story of four generations of women between 1940 and 1987.
The play shifts back and forth during this time frame, dipping in and out of the different hopes, possibilities and challenges faced by each of the women, interspersed with dream-like scenes where all four are children, playing together. The set lends itself to this fluid chronology and the play’s mix of childlike whimsy and stark everyday reality. The stage is dominated by a giant slide, but its carpeted surface nods to the normality of a mundane suburban home. A large kite flies overhead, but it depicts snapshots of a drab office ceiling, as well as blue skies.
This play is quite demanding of its audience, being two hours and 45 minutes long, and additional complexity is also added through the mix of voiceovers, signing and surtitles. While this lends power to the play’s consideration of the importance and difficulty of communication, this mix of narrative mediums does at times prove difficult to follow.
Strong and entertaining performances, however, keep this play moving, with Ali Briggs as grandmother and then great-grandmother Doris, Jude Mahon as Margaret, EJ Raymond as Jackie, and Lisa Kelly as the youngest, Rosie. The stand out performance comes from Jude Mahon, who nails the comedy of the childhood scenes, young Margaret’s hopeful daydreaming, and middle-aged Margaret’s anger and resentment at how her life has come to play out.
My Mother Said I Never Should was written in 1987 and has been imagined in different productions in over 30 countries ever since – this new take offers a welcome, fresh reconsideration.
- Words by
- Emma Liasides
- Featured in
- Theatre picks