ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

and as usual she was superb. She was possibly the most naïve of the four girls, but she made us laugh when trying to pronounce uterus and made us cry when we learnt the true nature of the conception. Rachel didn’t put a foot wrong with her clear delivery and characterisation. Norma was played by Charis Deighton. Norma had possibly the most harrowing journey of the play. Charis brought a grounded realism to the role. A couple of scenes of note was when firstly her labour began in Matron’s office, and when her baby had been taken away from her and secondly, when she roamed the institution, lost and bereaved. This was a powerful performance. Her scream of pain will stay with me for some time. As mentioned above Holly Bowland stepped into the role of Mary Adams at the last minute. Holly was charming on stage, with her middleclass vocals and manner together with her resilience to the situation she found herself in which was peppered with a slight naïvety. Her scenes with Catherine Osborne’s Queenie were a particular highlight of the play. Catherine was a revelation as Queenie. She as full of energy and edge. A wonderful line in the play was, ‘she wore it like war paint’. But as the play progressed, we realised her attitude was protection from the harsh realities of the time. Her final scene with Holly, turning down the opportunity to keep in touch, was a lesson in subtlety. The constant throughout the play was Matron. What was refreshing was that I never found Leanne Wharf ’s portrayal as bad or evil: she was bound by faith and duty. Matron genuinely thought she was doing good. Leanne was formidable in the role, strict, officious and a task master. Her mannerisms and physicality were spot on in a challenging role. The sets, costumes, lighting, and sound were fine throughout. The 60’s music brought a ripple of recognition throughout the audience and everyone as far as I could tell had a nourishing evening at the theatre. Alan Hargreaves had assembled a fine cast and crew and guided them with a steady hand to produce a thought provoking, emotional production. The Garrick is on fine form at the moment, long may it continue.