Monday, January 05, 2004


Little Waltham Drama Group


All memories are false.”

Shelagh Stephenson’s black comedy starts with an apparition, and affectingly dissects the mother/daughter relationship.

We see the three recently orphaned women share a joint as they sort the crimplene into bin bags. They bicker, they laugh, they each have a moment of revelation.

Mary, the amnesia specialist, strongly played by Billie Bond, Karen Wray’s perceptive character study of Teresa, the health food guru who recites recipes to meditate and seeks truth in Teacher’s Whisky. And Catherine [Susan Butler], garrulous, hypochondriac, superb as she hears the news from Spain.

Their men are less richly written. Mike Lee never really convinced as a TV doctor, though Peter Travell enjoyed his Ratner moment of truth. Vi, the confused matriarch who confronts her offspring from beyond the grave, was convincingly suggested by Gill Haysham.

The play has its Alan Bennett moments – the funeral director’s plastic hand, the herbalist in Whitby – and its darker Joe Orton side. But this is an original voice, writing in speech patterns that were not always easy for actors not from “up here”.

Mags Simmonds’ fluent and touching production brought out the best in the play, with a lovely final tableau, and an evocative set: matrimonial bed, massive dark-stained furniture, and cracks appearing beneath the grimy wallpaper.