When you go to see a student based production of a play, you often don’t expect to see acting as diverse and affecting as that of UCD Dramsoc’s current production, Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should. Beautifully produced with inspired acting, this is a production that should be widely viewed.
Opening in war-time Britain, we are introduced to Doris, acted by Amy O’Brien. Throughout the course of the three-act play, we are treated to the story of her life, and the lives around her in the form of subsequent generations. It is a play about women in the family, and the relationships between mothers and their daughters. Exploring some of the darker themes of the family, the story veers between comedy – ably provided by its four actresses – and the crippling effects of secrets and lies.
Unique in many ways, Keatley’s play features only female characters, and these are brought to life in the hands of the play’s director, Rosa Bowden, and four female leads. Alongside O’Brien as Doris are Caoimhe Finn as Margaret, Rosa Torr as Jackie, and Katie O’Byrne as Rosie. A remarkable testament to the fine acting capabilities of these women is how easy it is to forget that they are all around the same age, as they situate a family setting between mothers and their daughters. O’Brien stuns as an elderly woman – bound to remind you of your own grandmother – heaving and creaking across the stage, her mannerisms and expertly delivered lines heighten the comedic aspects of the performance.
O’Byrne as Rosie succeeds expertly at capturing the emotions, fears and excitement of adolescence. She works excellently alongside the other actors to create scenes that are both moving and entertaining. Finn and Torr similarly shine, their performances lending to and gleaning off each other throughout. Their scenes together are the work of skilled direction, and they capture some of the most raw moments of the play.
Despite the opening scenes providing a somewhat confusing chronology of events, the performance is intensely gripping, unsettling, and often hilarious. There is never a dull moment in Keatley’s script, and in Bowden’s captivating adaptation. Right up until the closing scene, the audience are kept in the palms of the hands of the actors. This is really a play that is all about the acting, and showing how the dynamic between a few actors and a simple but powerful script can be moving and beautiful.
The finest moment of the play comes in the closing lines, beautifully delivered by O’Brien. It is here that she combines the talents she accrued to play a child, a middle-aged woman, and an elderly woman all in one play; the indecisiveness, fear, and ultimate desire to convince oneself of a reality are at its biting core.
Beautifully acted and deftly handled, this production leaves no doubt that student productions are far too often overlooked. Bowden brings a play to UCD students that could easily be transferred to the stage of the Abbey Theatre without anybody thinking anything of it. From set design to its cast and crew, this is a production that should be seen widely.
My Mother Said I Never Should runs in Dramsoc Theatre until Friday 13th February, and will run at 7pm. Entry costs €3 for members and €4 for non-members of the society.