It was a capacity audience in the Second Space at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury on 16th March. We were treated to a production by the Ubiquitous Theatre of “My mother said I never should” written by Charlotte Keatley. Apparently, the play has been set as a work for GCSE students and has been up for drama awards. The play is about four generations of women from the same family from the 1940s to the present day but with flashbacks. It covered the relationship between mothers and daughters and the social climate of the day. The use of a male voice-over introducing each scene giving us dates and ages became a bit tedious but I could see why it was necessary: this process is more easily done in novels. All the actors were female and very accomplished and they held the attention of the audience throughout. The characters had all disregarded their mothers’ advice and “played in the wood” so that they had had to struggle to raise a family either singlehandedly or with the memory of what might have been. I personally thought that once the initial scene had established the main drift of the play, succeeding scenes involving children and spirits could have been discarded and shortened the performance somewhat because it was a very long play. However, the writer had engaged our emotions and there were some witty and amusing lines included. It certainly highlighted the conflict between home and career which still exists today. The concluding relationship between the grandmother and the teenager left the audience with a warm and positive feeling of hope. Thanks are due to BFWI for giving us the chance to see this production in our county.
The discussion group talked about the prison service at its meeting this week. There is conflict of opinion here too. Many of the public believe that the prisons are there solely to punish the criminal and to ensure the safety of the outside world when the wrong-doer is behind bars. Others hope that some sort of cure can be achieved and that prisoners can be prepared to return to a life after sentence with the tools to change their ways. Whichever way one looks at it the prison service is suffering from lack of staff and physical space to reduce tensions. We questioned why some sentences were for prison at all and the different lengths for incomparable offences. The WI has been working on removing the mentally damaged criminals from normal prisons but there is a chronic lack of hospital spaces. Also the WI resolution on Care not Custody tries to tackle this problem: drug addicts bring added tensions and counter productive elements into the cells. It all gets back to finances on both sides of the argument. I’m ashamed to say we all forgot to mention the good work being done in women’s prisons where WIs are being opened as reported in the last edition of WI Life magazine.