Pros: A brilliantly acted and written play that owes much to a skilled and talented cast.
Cons: A disappointingly thin audience that strips away the atmosphere, creating an uncomfortable echo of a room that at times felt empty.
It would be easy to think the title of this play tells you everything but it doesn’t even begin to explain how deep it delves into the human condition. Now playing at the Waterloo East Theatre, Three Mothers tells the story of three mothers inextricably linked by time and chance.
Khady is a poor Senegalese woman with one son and two daughters. She runs a fabric stall to make ends meet. Her son leaves for Europe in search of a better life and the chance to support the family he left behind. Khady waits anxiously for a text message confirming her son is safe. Meanwhile, Gisela, the widow of a family GP in England has just returned to live in her native Bavaria. She reflects how life has changed and fondly remembers the time she spent with her son and mother. Now confronted with immigrants seeking asylum she angrily resents their presence. However, Gisela’s conscience takes over as a double standard becomes increasingly obvious. Erika’s story begins in 1945; a Sudeten German, she has been banished by the Czechs at war’s end. She and her baby consequently seek refuge in a friendly country. Although ethnically German, Erika has never been to Germany and so embarks on a long arduous walk to freedom. She encounters violence, destitution and near fatal starvation. A sadly recurring echo throughout history, it feels like the oldest yet the latest thing and sets the tone of the story.
All three characters remain on stage as the story gently weaves between three very different lives, but they share one universal language: they are all mothers with the same hopes and fears for their children. The characters almost work as a tag team, delivering rolling monologues as the momentum slowly begins to build. When one speaks the other two become props ensuring focus is maintained. The monologues are also broken down by recorded news reports of the refugee crisis which cleverly held the story together. An excellent cast of familiar faces keep the narrative ticking over. Having made their name in some of the biggest soap operas, it gives the play added bite. Roberta Kerr as Gisela has appeared in Downton Abbey, but most famously played Wendy Crozier, Ken Barlow’s bit on the side in Coronation Street. Claire Perkins plays Khady and has featured in Babyfather and Eastenders, while Victoria Brazier as Erika has made numerous soap appearances including Hollyoaks and Doctors.
The script is sharp and insightful, proving that history does indeed repeat itself and ultimately teaches us nothing. A beautifully acted piece of theatre that is not to be missed.
Author: Matilda Velevitch
Director: Janys Chambers
Composer: David Ridley
Producer: Deborah Dickinson
Box Office: 020 7928 0060
Booking Link: https://waterlooeast.ticketsolve.com/shows/873579484
Booking Until: 12 November 2017