'The Good Enough Mums Club': Nappy days are here again

Emily Beecher tells Charlotte Philby how her postnatal crisis became a musical

The director clears her throat before addressing the cast: "OK, can we go from the magic out-of-my-fanny-conjuring bit...?" Anyone who chanced upon afternoon rehearsals in a room above a Lambeth pub this week, might have wondered what they'd stumbled into. This was not, however, practice for a Bangkok strip show but the finishing touches to a masterful new musical exploring the pressures, anxieties and downright absurdities of modern motherhood.

The Good Enough Mums Club tells the stories of five women from various walks of life who meet at a mother and toddler group. "As happens when you join one of these groups, they're thrown together with people they essentially have nothing in common with other than the fact that they all have small children," explains Helen Eastman, director of the show, who is eight weeks away from giving birth to her second child. But soon their stories are inextricable from one another, with the show following these five women as they change and grow and deal with their own situations, which range from post-natal depression to struggling with an ill child.

At the centre of it all, adds Eastman, "It is a journey of solidarity: it's about how you those friendships with people you think you don't have anything in common become your support structures."

Heartwarming, funny and deeply honest in a way that no mother could fail to appreciate, The Good Enough Mums Club captures the frustration, isolation and occasional joy of early motherhood in a frank and totally relatable story featuring the relentless humble-bragger friend, fruitless visits to the GP in search of sleeping pills, and the prepare-to-spit-out-your-raspberry-leaf-tea musical number "Mucus Plug", with the lyrics "Mucus nights – don't Google it. Oh great and now I think I've shat a bit."

It might also be the first ever play to intentionally recruit a cast made up entirely of mothers. As a result, Eastman says, "productivity is extreme". "Mums are the most unbelievably reliable and efficient people because they are juggling so many things that their eye is always on the ball."

It was partly funded by the Knee High Project, a programme created by the Design Council and Guy's and St Thomas' Charity to help improve child and parent healthcare in south London boroughs. With much of the show's content generated through an ongoing series of local workshops where women are asked to add their own experiences to the plot, it will resonate with mums across the land. But it is also a very personal piece for its creator Emily Beecher, who worked alongside co-writer Sally Samad and co-producer Sarah Shead. "I had terrible postnatal depression and psychosis," explains Beecher, whose daughter Maisie is now four years old. "In the beginning I felt amazing. I was like 'this is what I was put on earth to do, she's amazing, I'm amazing'." But between three and five months after giving birth, Beecher, 39, developed postnatal depression, which wasn't diagnosed until 10 months postpartum.

Then postnatal psychosis kicked in. "I remember we were away on holiday and I kept hearing a baby crying. I got really cross with my friends and my husband, I was like 'the girls are crying' and they were like 'the girls are right here'. I thought it must be a baby outside and I was really wrought, thinking 'who lets their baby cry like that?' And it would happen every time I tried to go to sleep."

"Everyone said 'you're just really tired'... In the end I walked into change Maisie – there are lines about this in the show – I literally walked in and I looked up and there was this huge puddle of blood on the ceiling, and the walls." Finally, after confiding in her husband, Johnny, about her hallucinations, Beecher was treated as outpatient at a psychiatric unit where her therapist suggested writing as a way to work through her feelings. "She said, 'Why don't you write, even if you just do five minutes or type into your phone while you're in the loo?'"

So Beecher did, and three months later following "a lightbulb moment", Good Enough Mums Club was conceived. "I'd had a really shit day and I came into therapy in floods of tears and I said, 'Today I've decided I'm not ever going to be a great mum. I'm never going to be that great mum that you see with her kids. And I can't do it and it's not me. I'm just going to have to settle for being good enough.'" Her therapist's response, says Beecher, an actress-turned producer-turned-writer, was a revelation.

"She said, 'Do you know what? Perfectionism is as damaging as neglect. I see more patients in my practice who are children of parents who are perfectionists than I do of children whose parents just muddled along and made mistakes,' and it just really struck me."

From then on, once she started talking about her experience, Beecher found that others started to confide their own imperfections in her – and so The Good Enough Mums Club was born.

When the show opens next week, every performance – scheduled so that mums can feasibly catch a matinée between lunch and afternoon school pick-ups – will be a bit different, evolving with the experience of its audience members. "Women fill in a questionnaire on their way in," Eastman explains. "During the show we'll use those confessionals, anonymously. At the end of each performance the audience makes a pledge based on suggestions made by supporters on Facebook, like 'I will never glare at other women because they've got the buggy spot on the bus, or I will never look in despair when someone sits down next to me with a baby on a plane'. It's about inclusivity, solidarity but most of all its about fun." µ

'The Good Enough Mums Club', the Bedford, London SW12 (thegoodenoughmumsclub.com) 10 & 11 July; the Three Stags, London SE1, 16 to 20 July

Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?