My Mother Said I Never Should - Plot and Subplot

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Helen Fletcher

My Mother Said I Never Should - Plot and Subplot

Act 1 scene 1 begins in the ‘waste ground’ setting, where Doris, Margaret, Jackie and Rosie are all present, and are all children in their respective generations, each wearing clothes typical of their time period. The waste ground is the only setting where all four characters are seen together, and gives the audience the opportunity to see all the characters as equals, and we gain an insight into their personality traits such as Jackie’s wildness and Margaret’s insecurities from this early on.

The first scene shows the four children, Jackie and Margaret are age 9, Doris is age 5, and Rosie is 8 playing together. They begin by singing “My Mother Said I Never Should”, before discussing Jackie introduces the idea of killing their mothers. The others are less enthusiastic, and Jackie, after daring each character, conspires with Rosie to eliminate the two others from their plans. Doris runs off crying after being called a ‘baby’ by the other three, Rosie shocks Margaret by telling her that she could get pregnant without getting married, and then, after being suggested by Jackie, the remaining three characters try to ”call up the spirit of Granny”. After seeing something, all three are frightened, and run away.

Scene 2 is set in 1940, in Chendle Hulme, where Doris is 40, and Margaret is 9. Doris is dusting the piano while singing, and is unaware that her daughter, Margaret is playing with ‘Sukey’- her doll, under it. Doris shows little encouragement and doesn’t participate in any jokes, or activities that Margaret does, and ignores some questions:

Margaret ……What happens when you die?

Doris (long pause) I'll bring you some cocoa presently.

Doris disapproves of her swinging in rhythm to the piano, and implies that she isn’t good enough, and that she should “be on Beethoven by now”. Doris seems ashamed of not having Christmas decorations or an Anderson Shelter, and leaves Margaret under the piano.

        Jackie is now under the piano, and questions Doris as to why Margaret used to be there as a child. Doris again, avoids answering, yet is more enthusiastic to spend time with her granddaughter, showing the contrast to how Margaret and Jackie are treated by Doris. Doris is patient when Jackie breaks a mug, and instead of shouting, breaks two more, and even tells Jackie of her disapproval for her own daughter. It then links back to the beginning of the scene with Margaret as a child, when Doris again brings in cocoa for her, but she is gone.

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Scene 3 takes place in the waste ground, this time with only Doris and Rosie as children. They play doctors and nurses, and discuss their primitive ideas about sex and relationships after they hear that their mother has ‘the curse’.

Scene 4 shows the relationship between Margaret and Jackie, after Jackie has been to a party, and tells her mother that she has had sex. Jackie is very laid back, in contrast to her mother, and leaves the scene to phone her boyfriend. After she leaves, Margaret’s short monologue is nostalgic, as she reminisces about a secret admirer that ...

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