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My Mum the Chemo Ninja

Photo: wongstock/Shutterstock Photo: wongstock/Shutterstock
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It’s hard to criticise a one-woman show about the death of the author’s mother from cancer less than three years ago. But My Mum the Chemo Ninja is less about Mum, and more about Angela Wilson – a drama school graduate and comedy writer who, following the terminal diagnosis, left London for Hertfordshire, sacrificing her relationship along the way.

The stand-up style show began life as a popular blog, and the script is dominated by the forced chattiness of online sharing. It’s full of “you know how…?”s and contrived “silly me!” humour and includes a random section about internet dating.

This is a shame because there is real anger in Wilson’s impersonation of the consultant who jovially describes her mother’s lungs as “pebbledash”, and lasting power in the image of her once-shy mother abandoning herself to a new-age “imagine you’re a monkey” exercise. The latter anecdote, and projected family photos, bring to mind Julie McNamara’s recent Let Me Stay, a piece about her mother’s Alzheimer’s that showed how vivid and universal the particular can be.

At the end, Wilson finds a more natural cadence as she appeals to us to break the conspiracy of silence and talk about the people we have loved and lost. It’s a good message, and many will thank this show for leading by example.

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A popular comic blog about the author losing her mother to cancer doesn’t translate well as theatre