My Mother Said I Never Should, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, review: ‘Impressive’ but ‘bizarre’ 

London Classic Theatre present My Mother Said I Never Should until February 7.
London Classic Theatre present My Mother Said I Never Should until February 7.
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London Classic Theatre arrived at the New Theatre Royal with My Mother Said I Never Should for the first stop in their 2019 tour. 

Charlotte Keatley’s play focuses on four generations of women, whose stories overlap in the non-chronological structure which jumps from war-time Manchester to modern London. 

We meet Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie, who battle with their role in the home, career and mostly as a mother.

The all-female cast are submissive to men despite there being none on stage, drawing attention to struggles at the time. Written in 1985 – the same year as Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls – My Mother Said I Never Should proves similar in the scene where two women share blood to form an odd unbreakable bond. 

The first half was fast-paced with snapping conversations highlighting the fragmentation of the family unit but the second half flowed with deep emotion forcing the audience to feel what it was like to give up a child. But the ending could be wrapped up quicker.

The costumes suited each time frame – impressive considering the company lost belongings in a fire on New Year’s Eve. The acting was frighteningly good, with each actor switching from different ages easily.

As I left, I overheard someone say ‘that was bizarre’ – and it was. But it forced the audience to think of the women who had to cope with the ever-changing expectations during the 20th century.      

Until February 7.