Princess Donnough wins over audiences’ hearts with this hugely relatable and hilarious emotional rollercoaster following a bumpy mother-daughter relationship. Cheryl May Coward-Walker creates a poetic, powerful and hugely relatable piece of theatre. It’s an immersive, inclusive solo show, that cleverly combines comedy with deep emotions.
The plot follows Rosemary, who has just escaped to the bathroom – after almost attempting to give a speech at her mother’s second wedding. She’s still not quite sure how to hit the right note in her toast, mostly because her family’s relationship has been… less-than-rosy. As she gears up for her big moment, a colourful waterfall of thoughts and memories descend. We realise that maybe the apple hasn’t fallen that far from the tree.
The second we meet the lovable main heroine (played by the brilliant Princess Donnough), she instantly captivates everyone’s attention with her charm, immense warmth and charisma, and total vulnerability. She seems like a true friend and confidant. Rosemary lures the audience in with her ravishing bridesmaid’s slinky green silk dress and killer heels (looking every inch like a diva). She struts around the stage confidently yet delicately. Donnough connects with every member of the audience looking at them directly in the eye, and setting a uniquely touching atmosphere.
Donnough’s acting draws you in bit by bit, as she slips into the stage-based loo with a sneaky glass of bubbly, sharing her agonising procrastinations as she desperately tries to write the speech. She even makes the awkward mention of ‘peeing on a stick’ particularly funny – while sipping champagne and still being totally oblivious to the future.
As the play progresses, we see her shift from bubbly attitude into intensely agonising emotions from memories of the way she has been treated. Rosemary’s resentment gets more and more palpable in her desperation as she tries to finish her speech and the final grain of truth is uncovered.
The play is a sinusoid of emotions. At first, we sympathise with the conflicted mind of Rosemary towards her mother. She clearly worships her and yearns for validation and love. At the same time, she hates her mother’s narcissistic attitude and the way she always seems to bring her down.
The Hope Theatre is the perfect intimate location for this deeply personal show. With just 50 seats available, the venue highlighted the distinctive, touching factor of the performance. The unusual setting is simple but effective – a bathroom at the wedding venue, strewn with copious baskets of discarded notes, loo rolls and cue cards, a chandelier and wedding balloons. The lighting and sound effectively transform the secluded hideaway in stark contrasts with the off-stage revelry and bombastic characters.
It’s a fantastic, funny, but also an emotionally heavy story, that makes for a perfect evening out with your best friend. After the final bows are done, you will most likely grab a glass of bubbly and continue the evening chatting about your own mothers and family traumas. It’s a show that opens up a whole lot of personal stories, not just on stage.
Directed by Simone Watson- Brown
Performed by Princess Donnough
Written by Cheryl May Coward-Walker
Run now finished: Hope Theatre 29th November – 3rd December 2022