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October 2021

Review: 'Night, Mother, Hampstead Theatre - drama without drama

There's a moment right at the end of 'Night, Mother which tugged on my heartstrings and that surprised me.

The play is set in rural America, where a mother (Stockard Channing) and daughter Jessie (Rebecca Night), who has epilepsy, live together. It's quickly apparent that Jessie is the household organiser, making sure her mother has enough of her favourite sweets and biscuits.

Stockard Channing and  Rebecca Night. Photography by Marc Brenner.
Stockard Channing and Rebecca Night in 'Night, Mother, Hampstead Theatre 2021. Photography by Marc Brenner.

In some ways it reminded me of the premise for Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane which, coincidentally, I saw earlier in the week at the Lyric Hammersmith, except this relationship has far less hatred and vitriol.

Just what their relationship is, like Beauty Queen, is slowly revealed, but in Marsha Norma's play, it's through the lens of a limited time frame. Very early in the play, Jessie tells her mother she is going to kill herself that evening.

Despite the fact that this will be their last evening together, there is a sort of calm activity.  Mother and daughter talk about the 'why', going over the past, but all the time Jessie is organising and tidying.

There is a confident and steady control about everything she does, but we've not seen her before tonight, so there is nothing to compare her behaviour to; instead, we rely on what she tells us about her feelings. 

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Review: The Mousetrap, St Martin's Theatre - frothy, fun entertainment

Are you allowed to call yourself a theatre fan if you haven't seen The Mousetrap, the West End's longest-running play? Possibly. But I've ticked that box now.

The Mousetrap sign
Photo by Rev Stan

So what was it like? Well, it's a fun, frothy West End play that is in part carried by its status of being long-running and a West End institution.

It's an Agatha Christie, which means everyone acts in a way that puts them under suspicion.

And I don't know if you are like me, but thoughts about characters always cross my mind early on, which I then put to one side but inevitable prove true.

Of course, I never verbalise my suspicions in the interval, so can't prove that I was kinda on the right track. But I was, so there. Not that I guessed everything because I didn't.

There are some nice little twists, as you'd expect from Christie.

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