My Mother Said I Never Should

Written by Charlotte Keatley

Thurs 25th February - Sat 27th February & Tues 2nd March - Sat 6th March 1993

Directed by Jacquie Penrose

Of course Doris didn't want children but you know how it is... and her daughter was going to get a proper job... and, of course, her daughter was going to do it all differently... and then there was Rosie, who flies kites and can beat the solitaire game, so things really will be different now, won't they...?

Charlotte Keatley's play is a wry look at the ever-turning mother-child relationship providing in the process a marvellous challenge for four actresses.

AuthorCharlotte Keatley

Charlotte Keatley (b 1960)

Charlotte Keatley studied drama at the Victoria University of Manchester and as a postgraduate at the University of Leeds. She has worked as a journalist for Performance magazine, the Yorkshire Post, the Financial Times and the BBC. She co-devised and performed in 'Dressing for Dinner', staged at the Theatre Workshop, Leeds, in 1983, and set up the performance art company, Royal Balle, in 1984. She was the Judith E. Wilson Fellow in English at Cambridge University in 1989 and Writer in Residence for the New York Stage and Film Company in 1991.

In 1990 Keatley was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Most Promising Newcomer Award. After receiving success and awards for her first play, 'My Mother Said I Never Should', 'Waiting for Martin', a short monologue she wrote about the Falklands War, was produced by the English Shakespeare Company in 1987. Later that year Keatley won an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First award for her work in co-directing 'Autogeddon'. She also wrote the screenplay to 'Falling Slowly', for Channel 4 television, and the children's drama, 'Badger', for Granada television. Her work for radio includes ten episodes of the BBC series 'Citizens', the play 'Is Green The Same For You', and an adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's novel 'North and South'. In 2003, she was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to write an epic play set in Georgia and the Caucasus entitled 'All the Daughters of War'.

PlayMy Mother Said I Never Should

'My Mother Said I Never Should' was written in 1985 and first produced in 1987 when it won both the Royal Court/George Devine Award and the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best New Play. Following its publication in 1988, it has been studied as an A-level set text for a number of years and has subsequently been translated into 22 languages. It holds the distinction of being the most performed play in the English language written by a woman.

The action takes place in Manchester, Oldham and London, moving in time between the 1920s and the 1980s. It is about the difficult relationships between mothers and daughters. A story which explores the lives and relationships of four generations of women: Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie. Their loves, expectations and choices, are against the huge social changes of the twentieth century. When Jackie falls pregnant with Rosie she is unable to cope and hands over the baby to her mother, Margaret. This play looks at the consequences of this secret and each women's opinion on it.

The play addresses the issues of teenage pregnancy, career prioritisation and single motherhood. It is also about how the different generations break free from their parent's traditions and culture. Margaret is caught in the middle in between her unmarried mother and her daughter, Jackie who had a daughter (Rosie) despite being unmarried.

The Bench Production

My Mother Said I Never Should poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


DorisJanet Simpson
MargaretRosemary Sawyer
JackieKat Adams
RosieNikki Wiscarson


Director Jacquie Penrose
Stage Manager Aislinn D'Souza
Assistant Stage Manager Tim Taylor
Lighting Design Jacquie Penrose
Lighting Operation Andrew Rees
Sound Alyse Ashton
Costume Sharon Taylor
Margaret Houlton
Set Design Jacquie Penrose
Pete Woodward
Poster Design Pete Woodward
Front of House Sally Hartley

Director's Notes

We have all been children.

This ordinary and important fact is at the heart of Charlotte Keatley's play. It is what gives it its universal appeal. And the play's dislocated structure reminds us that the adult carries the baggage of the child. They are the same person.

For the performers, the challenge has been the need to jump backwards and forwards in the time it takes to change a costume or changing from adult conflict to childhood game in a matter of seconds.

The story progresses, not in chronological sequence, but through a succession of contrasts: adult with child, mother with daughter, daughter with mother. It suggests that the generations go round in circles, but that there is always the possibility - if you take the optimistic view - of change.

Jacquie Penrose

Production Photographs