My Mother Said I Never Should - Adjudication

Last Post: Friday 1st July 2022

This was my first visit to Rossendale Players, and I was really impressed by the warm welcome given to the whole audience by the Front of House staff. The pre-show projections were interesting, and gave off a very warm welcoming vibe. I loved the way they valued the very many and important backstage roles. I hope I shall come and visit you again soon. Interpretation/collective vision of the piece Your (female) director clearly understood what it means to be a mother and a daughter and the pressures created within even the most loving of families. There was some sense of the hold that secrets have over us through generations, and the emotions felt when they are finally shared. The casting was excellent and the generational gap felt entirely credible. The interval projection added to the continued mood and the use of the track ‘Solitaire’ was a clever reference to the game in the play which shows us that we finally have to cope alone, and learn the answers for ourselves by trial and error. Direction (of staging and acting) An episodic piece like this is always a challenge but there was good flow between scenes making a fairly long play move swiftly, holding the attention of the audience. However, I do think sympathetic music would have enhanced the piece during some of the time changes. Although the actors were incredibly slick with costume changes, there were one or two longer pauses in the dark, especially in Act Three which would have benefitted from music to cover the wait and encourage audience reflection. The actors’ movement was well directed and the whole stage used very effectively to move us through nineteen different settings; very well done on this. Much of the line delivery was excellent but more pace in some of the scenes would have enabled the luxury of a bit more time in the really tense moments. I would have also valued a bit more physical contact in some of the emotional scenes, although I really loved the kisses for mothers at the end. The opening was dramatic, it is always good to make a strong first impression. The actors then coped well with that difficult opening section where they are all children and yet the audience is still acclimatizing to what is going on. The projections indicating time change were clever and worked well, if one remembered to look at the right time. Sometimes, I was a bit distracted to another part of the stage and then realized I had missed the information. I did just wonder if an auditory signal could have supported the audience- maybe a chiming clock or ticking which reminded us to look up left- just a thought. The way the projection spilled above the set may have been accidental or intended but I really liked it- reminded me of the projections in War Horse. Dawn writes in the programme that this is her first time directing. Massive congratulations on this production. I foresee a great future for you as a director, as so much of tonight’s performance was excellent and any comments should be viewed as helpful feedback, not criticism. (Please get in touch if you want to discuss any of the comments.) Set, costumes and props This was an excellent set. Designing for a multi-location play is always a challenge but this set fulfilled the brief beautifully and the transformation to French doors on the back wall was clever. I loved the tree and the swing, the shelves and the use of the tubular furniture throughout; very clever, it all worked. Also, the scratch baby grand was an effective use of space. I appreciated the way that most of the props were already on stage ready for use, and just wondered if that device could have been used even more so that your crew didn’t need to come on stage at all, but there may be good reason for that decision. Costumes were effective, although some of the earlier outfits weren’t entirely correct to period, but all worked well. I know it is hinted at in the script, but it was noted that the Oxfam bag contained the costumes worn earlier and later in the play. This is an example of some good attention to detail throughout the play. Individual actors’ interpretations: There were four strong performances here from actors of different ages, but also with quite a range of experience of appearing in plays. This was a relaxing evening, in that all four actors felt totally at home on stage and with their lines. I never had that anxious feeling, as an audience member, that someone was lost and couldn’t remember what to say next! All four actors provided a very entertaining and thought-provoking evening. They were presented with a number of challenges, as a group of actors. Obviously, they had to solve the problem of appearing credible at the different ages, which I think they mostly achieved well. They also had the practical challenge of changing costumes in a tight timescale and arriving on stage unruffled in a new time and place. Well done all of you on this. There is also the challenge in this piece of moving from acting with a fourth wall and then moving to a monologue shared only with the audience. I felt that this was achieved with different levels of success by different actors. Doris (Christine West) – You had the biggest age range to encompass and the contrast between the child and the older two was well done. More variety of pace would have improved the performance even more and helped you to develop the character at different stages of her life. This would especially have helped in the final speech, our only visit to 1923, to differentiate this Doris from the older ones. Your child Doris worked really well, and you somehow managed to look quite different facially in those scenes from the others. Margaret (Liz Wood)- It appears from the programme that you have the least experience of acting in plays. Well done on taking this role. You had an excellent bearing on stage and wore your costumes well. Your appearance and demeanor, especially as the secretary and when you arrived to collect baby Rosie worked really well. I felt that you were portraying a bitter woman and would have liked more edge to your voice on many occasions. Variety of pace and dynamics would have enhanced your performance. Jackie (Lauren Downes)- This was an assured performance, well-judged and entirely credible. I really believed in the teenage rebel, the unmarried mother, the artist and ultimately the business woman. But probably most outstanding was Jackie the horrible child- just the kind of leader of children that nightmares are made of. Well done, some very good characterization and handling of the text. Rosie (Danielle Radcliffe)- It is probably most difficult to portray change over a short period of time, but Danielle showed great subtlety when portraying the different ages between five and sixteen. This was a very mature and beautifully judged performance. The physicality was just right, overt but not over the top as you gave us those child-like movements and gestures and established this very believable child as she grew up under the cloud of a secret. Lighting and sound The lighting worked well, understated and subdued as needed, allowing the hidden corners of the stage to reflect the theme of the play from time to time. The bubbles for the children worked well, and the projections were all great quality. I don’t know if there was any amplification of speech but all the actors were completely audible, which is always a joy. Music, when it was used, was suitable and added atmosphere. I particularly loved the heart trace, projected on the scenery to indicate the final moments of life. Well done on providing a great evening’s entertainment. Jay Cundell Walker Artistic Director Ilkley Playhouse

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