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REVIEW: My Mother Said I Never Should at the Theatre Royal Windsor

My Mother Said I Never Should is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until Saturday, September 29

Siobhan Newman

Siobhan Newman

REVIEW: My Mother Said I Never Should at the Theatre Royal Windsor

‘My mother said I never should play with the gypsies in the wood ...’

Charlotte Keatley’s play about four generations of mothers and daughters begins with a simple skipping rhyme.

In shadowy lighting, four little girls play in a wasteland, each dressed in clothes  from a different era: one in an Edwardian pinafore, another in  1930s Peter Pan collar dress, a third in  a  flowery mid-century  smock and the last  in 70s-style dungarees.

They enter through a hole in a wire fence,   piles of junk lie underneath and a swing hangs from a  leafless  tree. They  play in the mess, daring each other to badness.

Then the action switches   back into time to Dora and Margaret, mother and daughter. There is an air raid and the little  girl wonders excitedly if  Hitler will fly over their house.

Presently we meet Margaret’s daughter Jackie,  then young Rosie,  in  scenes that skip forward and back in time, building to creating a kaleidoscopic of the family.

The men are talked about but never seen, this is a close-up on mothers and daughters, full of frustration, fear and love as they cope through what life and the times throw at them.

Carol Dance is superb in the character of Doris,  formal as a mother but affectionate as a grandmother and blessed with the best lines: ‘It’s not a house, it’s an end terrace’ she states in her firm Lancastrian accent. 

And: ‘Don’t shout, I don’t want the neighbours to think I’m deaf.’

I felt most sorry for the character of Margaret,  played sympathetically by Connie Walker who nevertheless caught her  streak of martyrdom (some mothers do have ’em I’m afraid).

Felicity Houlbrooke fizzes as lively Rosie and Kathryn Ritchie captures the complex emotions of Jackie.

I didn’t know this beforehand but My Mother Said I Never Should  is the most widely performed play ever written by a woman and this production, directed by Michael Cabot,  does it justice. By turns funny, moving and thought-provoking, if you are wondering whether to go – you should.


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