A Daughter's A Daughter, Trafalgar Studios, London
Thursday 17 December 2009
It's 1945 and Ann Prentice has had rather a good war, all told. Though she would never admit this, it has given her three years of respite from her massively over-controlling daughter, Sarah, who has been out in Egypt. So it's frightfully awkward that Sarah's return coincides with Ann's intended marriage to a well-meaning widower. Making a very striking stage debut, Honeysuckle Weeks (of Foyle's War fame) brings just the right degree of sulky manipulativeness, combative modernity, and poor little not-so-rich- bitch bleakness to the role of Sarah. All the sporty demobbed young men who people her social world are leaving constricted, unstable Blighty to grow oranges in South Africa or farm the Argentine. Nor will her mother ever find a true mate again, if Sarah has her way.
Who would you say might have written the above? Increasingly, watching Roy Marsden's wonderfully well-acted, witty and wrenching production, I would have hazarded that A Daughter's A Daughter was a hitherto undiscovered collaboration between the J B Priestley of the socially aware "Time" plays, and the Terence Rattigan who understood the secrets of hearts female as well as male. In fact, it's by Agatha Christie, writing under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott, and because it is based on her own troubled relationship with a daughter, the Christie family are not fond of it and have allowed it to languish after its one-week appearance at the Theatre Royal, Bath in 1956.
All praise, therefore, to this production for so spiritedly proving that there is such compelling life in this acute and caustic study of mother-daughter co-dependency. Jenny Seagrove delivers a nakedly empathetic tour de force as Ann, who evolves from the nervously doting, tightly respectable mother of the first act, into the party-hopping lush she becomes after giving up her fiancé for her daughter.
This is the least sentimental of plays in that it eventually arrives at the conclusion that Ann's supposed self-sacrifice was in fact emotional cowardice about non-maternal love masquerading as virtue. And then, brilliantly, it shows the appalling long-term effects of this on the daughter. The play becomes a Mobius-strip of repeated inter-woven patterns that gradually turns into a tightening garrotte. A real surprise, this piece, and highly recommended.
To 9 January 2010 (0844 579 1940)
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
X Factor 2014: Movie Week sends Jay James and co. into karaoke mode
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
Downton Abbey: Can a lord's best friend last for ever...even if she's called Isis?
Portfolio: Amit and Naroop
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are