Charlotte Keatley’s classic play heads to Worthing

Charlotte Keatleys My Mother Said I Never Should
Charlotte Keatleys My Mother Said I Never Should

Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should was a play Rebecca Birch instantly fell for.

Rebecca, who is playing Rosie Metcalfe in the piece, said: “I didn’t know the play before. I had heard of it, but I had never read it, but when I did get it, I just fell in love with it straightaway.”

She now joins Kathryn Ritchie (Jackie Metcalfe), Lisa Burrows (Margaret Bradley) and Judith Paris (Doris Partington) in the London Classic Theatre revival directed by Michael Cabot.

It plays Worthing’s Connaught Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19 and 20.

Set in Manchester, Oldham and London, My Mother Said I Never Should is a poignant, bitter-sweet story about love, jealousy and the price of freedom. The play details the lives of four women through the immense social changes of the 20th century. Using a kaleidoscopic time structure, Charlotte Keatley’s story focuses on four generations of one family as they confront the most significant moments of their lives.

“I play the youngest. I play ages eight to 14. I am the last of the four generations and I am probably the luckiest. I get out of it scot free. My character was born in 1971, but the piece begins with the waste ground which is abstract time where all four of us are children together. The piece begins properly in the 1940s.

“The main story is the relationship between these women. What is really clever is that you get all the historical context subtly. We are so focused on the women, but the brilliant design and the lights and the costumes mean that we always know what era we are in. Everyone gets an historical idea of the background from things like the sound of an air-raid warning or a certain song from the 1970s.

“Rosie is brilliant. She is incredibly bright and she says what she thinks. She says ‘My outside is the same as my inside’. She is direct. Even as an 11-year-old she can see what is going on with her mother and her grandmother and her sister. She is bold and she is bolshy. She can see that people are not actually talking to each other properly. There is so much subtext to what is going on, and it is so frustrating that people are not properly communicating – and she can see that.”

Rebecca joined the company earlier this year – when the company got back on the road after a devastating fire destroyed the set and costumes while they were in storage on New Year’s Eve.

“We got an email on New Year’s Day saying what had happened. It was so awful. They had lots of vintage and special clothes. But it was great. Everyone pulled together and the set is now brilliant. It is different, but it is brilliant.

“It is my first time working with LCT, and they are lovely. The rehearsal space is so safe and welcoming. I have done a lot of plays with lots of people, but with this, there were only four of us, and it was very intimate. But what I also love about LCT is that the production values, the sets, the costumes, the quality, is always so high.”

The tour takes in 14 venues, and Rebecca is loving it: “This is my fourth tour now, and it is really exciting to see new places and all the different theatres.”

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