Saturday, 30 November 2019

Review: Corrie's Ali Briggs in My Mother Said I Never Should


Crucible Studio Theatre, Sheffield, Thursday 21st of November 2019

Standing in the theatre lobby of Sheffield's world-famous Crucible Theatre, I gaze at an interior wall I hadn't noticed before, which showcases the works of Harold Pinter. The playwright has a poem written on the wall (he liked Sheffield a lot). It's fevered prose from a writer I've admired for years, and it's put me in the right mindset for this evening's entertainment!

It's a Thursday night in a blustery winter-ish Sheffield, and I'm waiting to meet writer Charlotte Keatley, to watch her multi-award-winning play 'My Mother Said I Never Should'.

Well, what's this got to with Coronation Street, you may ask? Well, this is an adaptation of a play which debuted in Manchester in 1987, so that's one connection, and this version produced by fingersmiths, features a cast of d/Deaf and BSL speaking actors, one of which is Corrie's Ali Briggs (aka Freda Burgess) in the role of 'Doris'.


This all-female cast play ( a company of four) is a story that spans generations, a story of strong northern women who we watch grow up, against a backdrop of political and social change from the 1940s to the 1980s, all set in working-class Manchester. A family led by matriarch 'Doris' (played with pathos and comic timing by Ali Briggs) we also introduced to rebellious and wayward 'Jackie' (played by EJ Raymond) straight-laced 'Margaret' (Jude Mahon) and illicit child Rosie (stage debut of Lisa Kelly)



The studio stage is small and sparsely designed, which helps the dialogue flow with great intimacy; it really does feel as though you're a 'fly on the wall' in this family saga. The writing is incredibly strong and only made stronger by the audio captioning, presentation of British sign language, and the passionately intense relationship of the plays four characters. A multi-talented cast tells this story with fierce believability, and even though I was sat next to the writer of the show, I couldn't help but become immersed in the action. A strange feeling actually, I kept wanting to tap her on the shoulder to discuss how this was written. I didn't, as I was far too engaged in this original adaptation.

The story weaves its way through 4 decades, non-linear, flashing back and forth through the families history. The story itself could be quite dark if it wasn't for the superb comedic performance of Doris (Ali Briggs) and the raw energy of stage debutante and youthful Rosie (Lisa Kelly). Ably supported by Jude Mahon as Margaret ( a sad twist in the character's story), EJ Raymond as 'Jackie' was the part that resonated with me the most.


Although written in 1987, this play has not lost anything in terms of socio and political themes and is issue-led, not unlike 2019's Coronation Street.

As someone with limited hearing myself (these hearing aids are a benefit, I promise), it was fascinating to watch the cast, who all have varying degrees of d/deaf, making this performance unique and utterly unmissable. I was also treated to a drink with the cast after the show!.

Massive thanks go to Charlotte Keatley, Jeni Draper, and the talented company of MMSINS for the hospitality! I also had a great chat with Ali Briggs post-show about her character Freda Burgress, and working alongside Malcolm Hebden (Norris Cole) and Eileen Derbyshire (Emily Bishop) What an honour!

Leaving the Crucible Studio, I felt enlightened and inspired having seen this play. I can certainly recommend it.

MMSINS tours the UK in 2020 and you can check out those dates here, which includes The Lowry Studio, at Salford Quays!


@rybazoxo is your cobbles connoisseur & Wednesday night episode review writer.
Follow me on twitter if  #Corrie is your thing ( I don't tweet politics either, which I think is a bonus) cheers!





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