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Once We Were Mothers review at New Vic Newcastle-under-Lyme

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The joys and heartache of motherhood has long provided a rich seam for writers to mine but while Lisa Evans is following a well-trodden path with this brand new play, it’s refreshingly different to anything that has gone before.

Here we have three separate and totally absorbing stories about three very different mothers and are provided, in turn, with brief snapshots of each. The effect is rather like a TV documentary that homes in on a small number of case studies, flitting from one to the other.

Arguably the most engaging story is that of Ali, a fortysomething former dancer whose daughter Flora was born with Downs Syndrome. There are wonderful performances here from both Janice McKenzie and young Sarah Gordy. There is more light and shade to their lives than the others, as the pair rely heavily on humour to help deal with their sometimes heartbreaking frustrations.

Then there is Kittty (Hazel Maycock) whose hopeless yearning for her missing daughter to return home finally drives her to madness, despite the best efforts of her sensible second daughter Jeanette (Alison Darling).

Milena’s story is the darkest of all. Paula Stockbridge gives a moving performance as a Yugoslav whose life is torn apart by brutal hatred in her war-torn homeland.

While the three studies are unconnected, the round makes an ideal platform for the women as they come in and out of focus. It is a challenging, though-provoking piece, crisply directed by Gwenda Hughes and aided hugely by inspired lighting and sound by, respecively, Daniella Beattie and James Earls-Davis.

Production Information

New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme, September 3-September 18

Author
Lisa Evans
Director
Gwenda Hughes
Producer
New Vic Theatre
Cast includes
Janice McKenzie, Paula Stockbridge, Hazel Maycock, Tina Gray
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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