“Mum on a broomstick” is how the South Wales Argus headlined a review of the family drama ‘The Anniversary’ when it was last presented by Newport Playgoers in 1972.
This comedy of family power-play set in 1960s London centres around evil one-eyed Mrs Taggart, an emasculating woman who dominates her three sons who all work in the family construction business.
Now Playgoers are producing the play again and the director, Steve Bissex-Williams, has fond memories of his own mother playing the malevolent matriarch who gathers her sons and their partners to celebrate her wedding anniversary – despite the fact her husband has been dead for 10 years.
“I remember seeing my Mum, Fay Williams, playing this vile, manipulative woman and being horrified by her amazing portrayal which earned a great review by Norrie Drummond, who was the Argus drama critic back then.
“When I was first asked to direct ‘The Anniversary’, I wondered whether the play would be as powerful today as it was then – we tend to be fairly unshockable these days. However, when I picked up the script it read brilliantly. Audiences can expect to be as shocked as I was by this scalpel-tongued, deviously possessive mother who exerts total control over her three weak sons.”
Throughout the “celebration” the evil, manipulative matriarch does everything in her power to remind her children who controls the family finances and ultimately their future.
The eldest, Henry, is a transvestite, middle son Terry is planning to emigrate to Canada with his shrewish wife Karen, and the youngest, Tom, a promiscuous philanderer whose many past relationships have ended at his mother’s insistence, arrives with his pregnant girlfriend Shirley.
This stage version is based on a celebrated film that starred Bette Davis as the mother from hell. This production will be celebrating the plays 50th anniversary, as it first opened in March 1966.
‘The Anniversary’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 9 – Friday 12h February at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 13 at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.