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Review: Angela

Review: Angela

Review: Angela cover photo on Stagedoor

If you are curious about the influence of Beatrix Potter and Jemima Puddle-Duck on the oeuvre of Mark Ravenhill, you might look no further than Angela, an online co-production between the Royal Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in which Ravenhill writes a love letter to his mother, born Rita, but who adopted the name Angela.

Names get lost and are beyond the grasp of the elderly Angela (Pam Ferris), who is increasingly affected by dementia, and caught between the past and the present, in a confused world where sly Mr Fox is always hoping to get his paws on Jemima’s eggs. The Young Angela (Matti Houghton) taxes her mother (Alexandra Mathie) who wants her daughter to peel the potatoes, not write poems (“we’re not going to eat poems for our tea”) and sets her sights on factory apprentice, Ted (Toby Jones). The older Angela can no longer remember that she has a son called Mark and still mourns the daughter she lost to miscarriage. “I bled the girl away, the future washed away”, she says blaming herself and her body for failing to carry the child to term

Children always place a strain on the heart and that is reflected in Angela’s difficult relationship with her own mother and then her relationship with her own son, who is not the longed-for daughter. Ravenhill doesn’t shy from uncomfortable truths: a child may be much wanted but motherhood can be difficult and does not always come easily. It’s honest about that, and touches on the still under discussed subject of post-natal depression, on the endless demands of children, the erosion of a sense of self that can come with motherhood.

The script (which is also slyly good on class and aspiration) works Polly Thomas’ direction to make it feel as if you have fallen into Angela’s confused mind, a place where past and present swirl around each other. It’s one story about one woman from a particular era. But lots of women will recognise Angela and see themselves in her or their own mothers.

You can listen to Angela online until Fri 2 Apr. Tickets here.

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Written by

Lyn Gardner

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