Why Shouldn’t I go?
By Janet Behan.
The London Irish Centre, 50-52 Camden Square, London NW1 9XB 14 – 16 November 2019. And at Lewisham Irish Centre, 25 January 2020 and the Purple Playhouse, Brighton 8-10 May 2020.
Runs 1 hr No interval.
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Review: William Russell 16 November.
Sad, funny, and delivered with humour and compassion by Janet Behan, the evening consists of three very different Irish women reflecting on the past and the effect the Catholic Church has had on their lives. It is at times very funny, but it is also sad. While the women are Irish what happens to them could happen to women anywhere especially in lands where the Catholic Church has laid down the rules by which society must live, although the welfare state can be just as brutal and unfeeling and some of it happens in Croydon.
In the first tale Realtine has joined a creative writing class, been afflicted with writer’s block and now, out of the blue, has discovered she is cured – and the words come tumbling forth. She is the unloved daughter who mistakenly got a crush on a nun visiting her school and suddenly finds that her family have decided she is destined for the religious life and is packed off to an order of the Poor Clares in England, discovering on the way that the beautiful nun she thought would be her friend was effectively jail bait for young girls, her task being to tour schools to enlist recruits for the order and she would never see her again. Her delight, as the story spills forth, in getting her revenge by telling the story is palpable. The next woman, Noreen, rails against her family, daughters, husband and neighbours for ruining her life, but the cause of her distress goes much farther back than that. Susan, the third woman, married, starved of affection, has a fling with a young coloured man and discovers she is pregnant. Her husband insists she go to England to have the child. If it is white he will accept it as their offspring, if not then adoption. Susan, now widowed, is writing a letter to the long lost child wanting her to know she was taken away, not given away.
Behan creates her three women with skill, transforming herself from one to the other as we watch, and Jessica Higgs has directed it with a sure touch, nothing is allowed to get in the way of the stories the women have to tell. It started off in 2016 as the first two tales as part of the Camden Fringe at the Tristan Bates Theatre, and now with the addition of the third story is back as Why Shouldn’t I Go? The result is a sixty minute theatrical delight which deserves a long life in small theatres and festivals and would make a perfect trio of TV Bennett style talking heads.
Realtine, Noreen, Susan: Janet Behan.
Director: Jessica Higgs.