Thursday, February 25, 2021

HOW TO KILL YOUR MOTHER (Southwark Elders/Southwark Playhouse)*****


By Dave


Available until: Unknown

As you get older, even when you’re actually quite young to anyone who’s not a twelve year old girl (who will give me the most wonderful eye-roll if she deigns to read this, just wait till you hit forty, young lady), it does sometimes happen that people show you a bit less respect. They act like you’ve lost your marbles when they’re actually all neatly in the box on the shelf. They act like your opinion doesn’t matter so much because you don’t know what you want, anyway. It’s sad and wrong. This incredible play demonstrates in all sorts of ways how wrong it is and how the older generations are actually kind of brilliant.

I don’t know how old writer Georgia Green is. With her name, I wouldn’t expect her to be an Elder but she is a very talented writer. This audio play is about a mother, Miriam, who has a terminal illness and asks her daughter Leila to help her die. It isn’t written chronologically and there are all sorts of unexpected moments but everything is so clear and it seems so right that it’s told in this way. The characters are really well-defined and there is so much emotion and love in this story. It’s moving but it’s also really powerful and it makes you laugh too. Georgia has the ability to write a sad scene and make it hilarious and it’s somehow just right.

I’m so glad director Toby Clarke really decided to go for the comedy parts. Euthanasia is always a controversial subject and death is nearly always a sad subject so to put the comedy in so strongly, without holding back, is a brave choice but it completely paid off. These parts added to the story so much because laughter and jokes are a part of the characters’ lives and I don’t think that’s necessarily something that goes away when times are tough.

The play stars Jaki Gruzinskas and Rosie Emily Dawson and they’re both brilliant. Rosie looks very young and probably isn’t an Elder so I’m guessing she plays Leila, and Jaki plays Miriam. Leila narrates most of the play and Rosie is really incredible. She puts so much emotion into it. Even when she’s clearly trying to hold back the emotion, it’s always there. Rosie gives such a good sense of Leila’s whole character too. She’s kind and funny and I love to see (or hear) a play where a female character talks about a date with a girl and it’s treated as the normal thing it is. It’s great for me as a gay guy but it also tells you so much about Miriam that she doesn’t see anything strange about it.

Not that much shocks Miriam. She’s the sort of person you come out to and all she wants is to know is all the gossip about your significant other. Miriam is an incredible character – intelligent, practical, hilarious, cheeky, fun-loving. But also stubborn, so when she gets an idea in her head… Jaki does a wonderful job of characterising her. She makes Miriam a really wonderful lady and not the sort you’d dare to sympathise with too much.

There are more plays to come from the Southwark Elders and after his showing (hearing?) I’m really looking forward to them.

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