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Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Keatley’

Charlotte Keatley’s play is apparently the most performed play in English written by a woman, translated into 22 languages, so it’s somewhat surprising that it has taken twenty-seven years to get a London professional revival. Still, lets be thankful that it has at last, and that if anything it has matured with age, or maybe that’s me, or both.

We follow four generations of women over almost fifty years, from the Second World War to the late eighties. Doris has a daughter Margaret who marries an American airman. Margaret has a daughter called Jackie who becomes the first generation to go to college. Three months after the (unplanned) birth of her daughter Rosie, Jackie asks Margaret to bring her up. Margaret decides that to do so Rosie must think she is her mother. Over the years they all become distant and their meetings irregular, two generations in London and two in Manchester. When Rosie is in her mid-teens and her real mother has matured and become successful, it’s time for some truth, and tears.

The scenes are not chronological, so its structure is like a jigsaw which you gradually put together. There are also childhood scenes which appear to be more generic than specific. The lovely relationship between Doris and her great-granddaughter is constant, the others fluctuate and strain. The backdrop is both the events of the period and the changing roles of women, so it’s a slice of social history as well as a personal story. I was captivated even more so than I remember being by the original production at the Royal Court back in 1989. Paul Robinson’s excellent new production uses onstage TV’s to show dates, locations and footage contemporary to the scenes, which I thought helped you unravel it.

Serena Manteghi is terrific as Rosie, perfectly capturing the energy and naivety of her at every age. It’s lovely to be reminded how good a dramatic actress Katie Brayben is; Jackie is her first role since wowing us as Carole King in Beautiful. Maureen Lipman gives one of her best ever performances as Doris, and as one of the four very believable children. Hilary Tones took over the role of Margaret at short notice, following the withdrawal of another actress, but you wouldn’t know it as she plays her with great skill and empathy.

Great to see this again, and particularly pleasing that the play and I have aged so well!

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