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Playing with Gypsies: EUTCo’s ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’

“My Mother Said I Never Should,
Play with the 
gypsies in the wood,
If I did, she would say,
Naughty girl to disobey” 


EUTCo’s ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’, produced by Lily Roberts and directed by Josie Farmer and Beth King, explores the relationship between mother and daughter across four generations, and what happens when that sacred bond is broken.

The play crosses time and space in the lives of the four women, jumping back and forth from childhood to adolescence to old age. This continual shifting timeframe creates a patchwork of moments that weaves all of the characters’ together, showing that despite generational differences these women are not as different as they like to believe. It is a difficult undertaking that is executed brilliantly by the all-female cast of 4, who give one of the most genuine and breathtaking performances I have ever witnessed from a EUTCo play.


“You do what you believe is best for your daughter, you know, and then you find out, it wasn’t what she wanted, or needed” – Doris 


It is remarkable watching each of the actors, from troubled Jackie, played by Niamh Smith, to restless Margaret, played by Letitia Harkness, perform their characters across all different ages, moving expertly from childhood to middle age and between. Laura Jackson’s performance as grandmother Doris is almost disturbingly authentic, despite the lack of makeup or grey hair you believe wholeheartedly that she is an elderly woman from Manchester, just as it is hard to believe that Rosie, played by Lily Freeman, is not a young rambunctious girl of 8 or 14. Their performances require an incredible amount of physicality and character building and yet it seems effortless. By the end of the play you feel like you know each of these 4 women intimately, for in as much as any performance can achieve, you have witnessed a life.

Moreover, despite the play’s heavy subject matter, spanning from teen pregnancy to cancer, the cast imbue it with an incredible amount of humour and warmth. Laughter follows tears and even in the most bittersweet moment you see how there is beauty and hope in strife and imperfection. Their performances make you consider how a single choice can shape a whole life, and how sometimes it is the small moments that matter most.

The cast’s incredible performances are accentuated by the stage and costume. The stage is set in the round, which creates a dynamic and immersive experience. The set and lighting is incredibly simple, with nothing more than a desk, a few chairs, and scattered props, as are the costumes, with subtle dress changes to suggest shifts in time or setting. But this simplicity perfectly serves the constantly evolving nature of the scenes and enables the performances to shine through and transform the space and characters with our imagination.

EUTCo’s ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’ is an honest and unflinching performance of motherhood, family, and sacrifice that will stay with you for weeks to come.  

Currently studying English Literature. I was born in New York, but I call England home. Before starting at the University of Exeter I took a gap year. I spent 5 months road tripping and blogging my way across the USA, seeing 37 states in just over 16,000 miles. Needless to say, I love to travel. I am also an avid bookworm, a writer, a yogi, and a (lazy) hiker, among other things. I have a soft spot for bees, sci-fi, and red velvet cupcakes.
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