My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley – fingersmith – New Wolsey Theatre
My Mother Said I Should Never Should is a story about a family of women experiencing different stages of their lives. Together these women are shown throughout the decades growing up and facing challenges. It focuses on mother/ daughter relationships and how strong a family’s bond is. All of the characters have to face the consequences of a shocking secret. We got to experience the love and confusion that the family experienced at first hand.
Fingersmiths Theatre company are a visual physical theatre company and perform the play with a mix of hearing and deaf actors. The play is spoken at times, and performed using British Sign Language (BSL) at others, and often both at once. The play’s unusual structure where the action goes back and forth in time, alongside Fingersmiths’ unique approach to performance at times makes the production a challenging watch. Whole sections that are signed may be lost on many of the audience, but you have to admire a company who is doing so much to represent deafness in mainstream theatre.
The play is considered a classic, and for audiences who are familiar with it, this will be a fascinating and unusual take on a well loved text. However it is not a play I know, and at times, the use of BSL made it hard to follow.
The cast do a great job of making sure the different methods of communicating don’t become imbalanced and I was very impressed by their commitment to using BSL and making sure the roles of the deaf actors was far from token. It is a bold and innovative approach that I think would suit a play that was much less wordy and perhaps had a more expressionistic feel.
So a brave and admirable approach to a classic play, that was presented professionally and with real skill, especially from the deaf performers. At times I struggled to follow the story, but I welcome their commitment to using deaf actors and for pushing BSL into the mainstream.
Roxy Galbraith – East Bergholt High School