This record-breaking show is famous for being written by actresses who are mothers. You could add ‘for audiences who are mothers’ because the empathy is instant and complete. The five women are so convincing that they seem simply to be telling their own stories.
It is achingly funny. Every shuddering scenario is brought to life, from the screaming birth and revolting nappy pails to the desperate plugging of endless coins into motorised elephants. There are moments that are almost anarchic, like the mass spraying of milk from swollen breasts and the naked mother with a lost child in the swimming pool changing rooms.
But it’s not played just for laughs. The format is so simple, the voices and personalities so strong and the narrative so clear - almost poetic at times - that these natural storytellers hold the audience in thrall. Howlingly funny moments such as the desperate attempts of Alison (Kim Hartman) to get her infant off to sleep can give way to something deeply poignant, and Hartman captures all hearts with her quietly apologetic account of the trials of a premature baby.
Tough Robin (Bernie Nolan) is reduced to communicating by letter with her husband. Young Jill (Michelle Gayle) mourns fashion and art house movies but finds confidence and love. Barbara (Daniele Coombe) mercilessly sends up the husbands. Ruthlessly honest, Deborah (Rebecca Wheatley) tells it like it is. This could be any ante-natal class, any mother and toddler group - in fact surely they must have been at mine?