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My Mother Said I Never Should is a play in three acts by Charlotte Keatley.

directed by Michael
Attenborough and Brigid Larmour
My Mother Said I Never Should was written in 1985 and was first produced at the Contact Theatre in
Manchester on 25 February 1987. A revised edition premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on 23
February 1989 and in a recent revival premiered on 29 September 2009 at the Watford Palace
Theatre. The play made a welcome return to the North West when The Dukes [1] in Lancaster
produced My Mother Said I Never Should in February 2010.
This play is about the difficult relationships between mothers and daughters and explores the
themes of independence, growing up and secrets. A story which explores the lives and relationships
of four generations of women: Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie. Their loves, expectations, and
choices are set against the huge social changes of the twentieth century. When Jackie falls pregnant
with Rosie, without a husband, she is unable to cope and hands over the baby to her mother,
Margaret. The play looks at the consequences of this secret and each woman's opinion on it. The
play has a minimalistic set and is deliberately unrealistic. One of the most unrealistic things in the
play is the wasteground scenes where all characters become children. In these scenes, Doris
becomes the youngest child at 5, with Rosie at 8 and Jackie and Margaret both 9. Some viewers
have said that "it works backwards on itself which can get rather confusing." [Who?] The scenes do not
follow in chronological order, so in one scene Margaret will be a young child during the war being
comforted by her mother Doris and in the next Jackie will be a child visiting her grandma Doris. This
can also be slightly confusing because it is not specifically mentioned how old the characters are in
each scene, but mostly it is very self-explanatory.
The main themes of the play are relationships and motherhood. It addresses the issues of teenage
pregnancy, career prioritisation and single motherhood. It is also about how the different generations
break free from their parents' traditions and culture.
Margaret is caught in the middle in between her mother and her daughter, Jackie, who had a
daughter (Rosie) despite being unmarried.

One of the great success stories of modern British theatre, Charlotte Keatley's award-winning My
Mother Said... was premiered in 1987 and has since been translated into 22 languages. Eighteen
years later the play, although very much of its era, never comes across as a period piece; under the
direction of Sarah Punshon this story of mother/daughter relationships, played out against the
backdrop of women's emancipation, is as touching and funny as ever.
Doris Partington (Deirdre Doone), born illegitimate in 1900, abandons her promising teaching career
for marriage and motherhood in 1924. After the war her daughter Margaret (Janice McKenzie)
marries an American and becomes the mother of Jackie (Sukie Smith), an archetypal 60s rebel.
When Jackie falls pregnant whilst at university and is unable to cope with life as a single mother, she
and Margaret decide that young Rosie (Katie Wimpenny) will be brought up as Margaret's own
daughter and not told the truth about her parentage until her sixteenth birthday. Needless to say, all
does not go to plan; Margaret's untimely death brings the secret out into the open too soon, and
instead of the hoped-for mother and child reunion Rosie chooses to live with her great-grandmother.

My Mother Said I Never Should


'My Mother Said I Never Should' was written in 1985 and first produced in 1987 when it won both the
Royal Court/George Devine Award and the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best New
Play. Following its publication in 1988, it has been studied as an A-level set text for a number of
years and has subsequently been translated into 22 languages. It holds the distinction of being the
most performed play in the English language written by a woman.
The action takes place in Manchester, Oldham and London, moving in time between the 1920s and
the 1980s. It is about the difficult relationships between mothers and daughters. A story which
explores the lives and relationships of four generations of women: Doris, Margaret, Jackie and
Rosie. Their loves, expectations and choices, are against the huge social changes of the twentieth
century. When Jackie falls pregnant with Rosie she is unable to cope and hands over the baby to her
mother, Margaret. This play looks at the consequences of this secret and each women's opinion on
it.
The play addresses the issues of teenage pregnancy, career prioritisation and single motherhood. It
is also about how the different generations break free from their parent's traditions and culture.
Margaret is caught in the middle in between her unmarried mother and her daughter, Jackie who had
a daughter (Rosie) despite being unmarried.

Sypnosis of 'My Mother Said I never Should'


The play depicts four generations of women through the changing times of post war. It is about
women and womanly relationships. It gives an insight in to the changing roles of women and their
individual personalities and how they relate to one another. Though they are each connected by
family resemblances each character reflects their own individual hopes and expectations and it is a
play about how women relate to men and also at different times, to be a wife and a mother.
Our first scene set in a wasteland background whereby Rosie and I as Doris are play acting doctors
and nurses conjuring up ways to threaten and kill their mums with notions of ritualistic spells.
I feel the dialogue is not as clear and straightforward as the revelance of the phsycological tensions
between each character is predominates.
Each character reflects their own personality, Margaret always appears anxious and unsure, always
trying to maintain her position and authority yet exposing a long suffering woman who is caught in
the middle and feeling the ongoing strain. Doris appears as if she knows best, slightly detached and
yet caught up in tradition (as older Doris), as younger Doris looking up to Rosie as if she knows what
she is talking about and shy in her conviction at that age. Rosie always complicit, and Jackie
underneath the surface wild, defiant and experimental as well as being independent. It is a play
about possessions, lost and found through time.

The four women play together as girls. Doris and her daughter Margared prepare for an air raid in
1940. Jackie visits her grandmother Doris at 61, and Jackie starts to rebels against her mother
Margaret. Margaret then has a miscarriage. Jackie has an illegitimate baby Rosie,and her mother
Margaret takes her away to bring her up as her own.
Scene 3 Our characters appear as children, Rosie waits for Doris in a wasteland playground playing with
stones. Rosie dramatises the context of 'Curse' implying that their mum may have her period or
some spell. Doris doesn't have an understanding of what 'the curse' is so they seem both carried
away with their imaginations to conclude their individual meaning. Then follows a doctor's and
nurses scene whereby they take it in turn to lie down while the other plays a male doctor examining
a woman. Doris is cuatious of ther mum's insight so clams up and says 'she say's she can see inside
my head.' Lastly they finish the scene going through the process of childbirth.
It seems as if the scenes are set in environments which restrain the spontaneity of emotions. The
tensions between the characters are felt as they are not sitting in secure places, they are in an open
wasteland for this scene. The dialogue leaves you feeling uncertain and up in the air about things
without any sense of conclusion.
Scene 4 Margaret tries her best to challenge her daughter Jackie who has had sex for the first time.
Margaret's attempts to try and make Jackie see the truth in her eyes of the situation anbd how and
what is she going to tell her dad this news. Jackie retaliates with anger and feels defensive towards
her mother's insistence. Her mum implies that Jackie had no reason not to wait until she was older to
have a baby and that she was putting her life on hold and not continuing with her education.
Scene 5 I as Doris arrange a rug on the ground for a picnic and I call for Jack over the sound of the
lawnmower. I go back in the house to get the tea tray. Jackie and Margaret sit down for tea and
Jackie states that Grandad let her use his real paint. Margaret has had a break and been away in
the lake district. Doris reminds Margaret to take her iron tablets. Margaret feels alienated and
knowing she has had a miscarriage.
Doris and Jackie are warm towards one another. Jackie finds Margaret's old doll and Jackie thinks
that her mum assumes she has broken the doll as she spends time putting the doll to bed. Doris
understands Margaret's distress and attempts to hold Jackie but Jackie runs away and Doris'
frustration with Margaret prevails stating that if she hadn't be so hasty to get a temping job she would
never have lost the baby.
Scene six -

The scene is set in a concrete council flat in which Jackie tries to quieten her own baby Rosie who
has kept her awake all night. Rosie dressed in her all in one suits aged eight doesn't enter the scene
but stands at the back of the scene. Jackie starts to put away the baby clothes in to the bags.
Margaret walks in eager to take the baby whilst ken is waiting in the car but the tensions rise
between Jackie and her mother as unexpressed emotion and a competitive tension underlies whom
wants to hold the baby. Jackie makes it clear to her mother that she had an agreement to bring up
her daughter and that Jackie's dad supported her in her decision. Jackie states she is keen to
pursue her education through Art school. Margaret tells Jackie the importance of Rosie knowing that
she is her sister but only to be told that at the right time and when she is sixteen. Jackie still feels her
mother has unrealistic expectations of her and she suggests Jackie stays with Doris and Jack until
Christmas time. Jackie feeling the tensions between her and her mother feels upset for both of them,
whilst Margaret leaves with the baby and Jackie is left crying whilst observing her baby's clothes.
THEMES
My Mother Said I Never Should manages to say something about both how things change and how
they stay the same that the changing role of women has deeply altered the way women view
themselves and their lives, as well as showing us that mothering a daughter is the tie that binds.
My Mother Said I Never Should is about women and womanly relationships, and it is also about
particular people who each have their own personalities and pleasures and limitations, each distinct,
yet each connected by family resemblances. And it is a play about the way women relate to men and
what it was, at different times, to be a wife and mother. And it is a play about possessions the
value things gain and lose through time.
The themes are so universal to womens lives marriage, children, work, relationships that a lot of
the audience must think the same, and an interview with the plays author (Charlotte Keatley) in the
programme confirms that people often tell her they find the storyline reflects their personal lives.

Charlotte Keatley (born 5 January 1960, London) is an English playwright. She studied drama at the
Victoria University of Manchester and as a postgraduate at the University of Leeds. She has worked
as a journalist for Performance magazine, the Yorkshire Post, the Financial Times and the BBC. She
co-devised and performed in Dressing for Dinner, staged at the Theatre Workshop, Leeds, in 1983,
and set up the performance art company, Royal Balle, in 1984.
Her first play, My Mother Said I Never Should, which she wrote in 1985, was first performed at the
Contact Theatre, Manchester, in 1987, and won both the Royal Court/George Devine Award and the
Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best New Play.The play was revised for a successful
run at the Royal Court Theatre in 1989, and in 1990 she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier
Most Promising Newcomer Award.
My Mother Said I Never Should was published in the UK by Methuen in 1988, and has been studied
as an A-level set text for a number of years. It has subsequently been translated into 22 languages
and has become the most performed play in the English language written by a woman.
Introduction
My Mother Said I Never Should - Form, Structure and Language Unlike Ibsen's A Doll's House, the
scenes in Keatley's My Mother Said I Never Should are not in chronological order. Keatley's play is
about four generations of women; by juxtaposing different time periods, it allows a contrast of the

lives these women led. A Doll's House is set over three days, with the main focus on the plot and
characters. Mother Said I Never Should replaces plot with structure; the storyline of the play is not
what makes it interesting. It opens in the wasteground, described by Keatley as "a magic place
where things can happen". By having a place where all four characters can communicate without the
restrictions of their own respective societies, we see their real personalities emerge. The child
scenes are carefully integrated at different stages within the play, as links from one time period to
another. In the second child scene Rosie explains that "you have to get married" before you have
children; it then cuts to Margaret as an adult, trying to cope with the news that Jackie has had premarital sex. Keatley uses these links in the structure to reveal things about the characters that they
would not usually reveal as adults. Themes such as marriage are introduced in the child scenes, and
then are explored in the adult. Another effect that the wasteground scenes have on the play is a
change in energy. Few of the adult scenes are fast-paced or particularly dramatic, and so the
inclusion of these scenes can raise the energy when it is needed
The ending also creates dramatic irony, in that we see the aims and ambitions one character had,
knowing that she will never fulfill them. Unlike Ibsen's A Doll's House, Keatley's claims to not use
naturalistic language in My Mother Said I Never Should. Despite the use of informal, contemporary
language including slang, "fucking brill!" the majority of the dialogue is littered with subtext, and each
line is carefully chosen to convey certain themes. Rosie She needs... Margaret What does she
need? This piece of dialogue shows Margaret's resentment for Jackie; when performing the scene,
I'd imagine her saying it particularly bitterly. The interruption followed by the question suggests she is
impatient, and is taking her anger out on Jackie. Rosie however, does not pick up on this point, and
answers the actual question, creating dramatic tension. Keatley clearly shows a contrast between
each character's style of language, as well as the same character at different ages. Because the
play is not in chronological order, it is possible to compare the language characters use at different
ages. In the final scene of the play, we see an enthusiastic and optimistic Doris "This is the
beginning of my life!" However, in Act one, scene 2, set some years later, she is almost the complete
opposite. When attempting to get a young Margaret into bed, she avoids certain conversation topics,
and is very impersonal: Margaret Do you.....do you? Doris I'm saying goodnight now. This contrast of
language and behaviour emphasises the unrealistic expectations Doris had of married life, and she
even admits this later on.

Other characters have the same difficulty when talking to Rosie, especially Jackie. She is forced to
talk to her as a sister rather than as a daughter, and ends up with a combination of both "Well you
shouldn't! NEVER, ever -". This leads to Rosie being confused about their relationship; she seems to
either hate or idolise Jackie. At age 8, she claims she hates her, yet at age 15, she wants to move in
with her. Doris is the only character who manages to talk to her at the same level; when they speak,
the age gap is not apparent. Doris They work too hard. Rosie You shouldn't wind them up. At some
point in the play, every character does speak truthfully, and reveal their genuine emotions. Some
manage it in dialogue, such as Rosie and Doris "My outside's the same as my inside. That's why
when I talk Mum thinks I'm being rude", yet others are only honest in their monologues. In Act one
scene nine, Margaret is concealing the birth of Rosie from Doris, who is one the phone. When
performing this scene, I played Margaret, and tried to emphasise her dishonesty by using contrasting
facial expressions from the language. I wanted to make it seem I was thinking of excuses during the
pauses in the conversation. The first three generations suppress their anger and resentment through
use of sarcasm and clichs, while Rosie refuses to play their games, and questions them, Doris
Well, Rosie will need bed linen Rosie What for? Doris You never know. Rosie I've got a duvet.
Margaret Rosie. Rosie I have!