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My Mother Said I Never Should


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A: Charlotte Keatley Pf: 1987, Manchester Pb: 1988 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Manchester, Oldham, and London, 1940–87 C: 4fThe play focuses on four generations of mothers and daughters: Doris Partington, born 1900; Margaret Bradley; born 1931; Jackie Metcalfe, born 1952; Rosie Metcalfe, born 1971. Repeatedly, the four women play together as girls, each in their contemporary costume. 1940: Doris (40) and her daughter Margaret (9) prepare for an air raid. 1961: Jackie (9) visits her grandmother Doris (61). 1969: Jackie (17) rebels against her mother Margaret (38). 1961: Margaret (30) has a miscarriage. 1971: Jackie (19) has an illegitimate baby Rosie, and her mother Margaret (40) takes her away to bring her up as her own. 1951: Margaret (20) tells Doris (51) that she is going to marry an American Air Force pilot, live in London, and have a career. Jackie (27) goes to Margaret's for Rosie's eighth birthday. Rosie believes Jackie is her elder sister. 1982: Doris's husband has died, and the four generations of women clear up the family home with all its memories. 1987: Margaret (56) tells Doris (87) that her husband has left her. Rosie (15) and Jackie (34) return from holiday, and Rosie tells Margaret that she wants to live with Jackie. Margaret dies of stomach cancer, Rosie, on discovering that Jackie is her mother, is angry with her, and goes to live with Doris. Rosie celebrates her 16th birthday with Doris. 1923: Doris excitedly tells her mother that she is engaged.

A: Charlotte Keatley Pf: 1987, Manchester Pb: 1988 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Manchester, Oldham, and London, 1940–87 C: 4f

In this intricately constructed piece, which makes great demands on the four actresses, Keatley offers a keenly observed and non-judgemental narrative of women in the 20th century, summed up by Doris: ‘You expected too much. So did I. And Jackie expects even more.’ The growing assertiveness of women is documented, applauded, but also recognized as being problematic.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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