My Mum's a Twat

Anoushka Warden
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs

Patsy Ferran Credit: Helen Murray
Patsy Ferran Credit: Helen Murray
Patty Ferran Credit: Helen Murray

The unnamed protagonist, who easily supports her conclusion that My Mum’s a Twat, might best be described as a cooler, female version of Adrian Mole.

For 80 delightful minutes, overseen by David Jason, Roger Moore and the legends of gangsta rap, the woman in her early 30s regales an audience seated in her expanded teenaged bedroom, re-created by designer Chloe Lamford, with stories that may well have a strong autobiographical element and feature a family which would struggle even to come within the ambit of the term “eccentric”.

Until the age of 10, give or take a divorce and a bevy of fractional siblings, life for our heroine was normal, as was the loving care devoted by the future twat.

However, an unfortunate series of events threw Mum off-beam and into the clutches of imbecilic but omniscient guru Nata and her healing group, actually a global moneymaking cult bleeding the weak and gullible.

The remainder of the evening is a finely balanced mixture of coming-of-age comedy and insightful exploration of the feelings of a West Country teenager effectively abandoned by her mother and attempting to adjust.

The early stages of change find Mum remarrying a Canadian, christened Moron by his stepdaughter. Interactions would have been difficult at the best of times, but the problems are compounded by the obligations imposed by Nata's pseudo-religion.

When her parents decide to emigrate, it is heartening to see the pre-teen asserting herself by refusing to follow and instead foisting herself on Devon-based naval officer Dad, barely a character in the monologue.

The tale then primarily focuses on annual trips to Canada, where our narrator, having upped her age by a couple of years, has a whale of a time enjoying sex and drugs and gangsta rap in the company of a group of super-cool older kids.

My Mum's a Twat is a supremely assured stage debut, helped by an engrossing performance from Patsy Ferran, who draws in the audience thanks to a combination of perfect comic timing and empathy for her rather lovable character, under the joint direction of Royal Court’s Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone and Jude Christian.

Miss Featherstone might well discover that she has inadvertently created a problem for the theatre. Tyro playwright Anoushka Warden is currently the venue's Press Manager but, having revealed a talent for working on the creative side of the business, may soon feel an urge to give up the day job in order to find time to write her next play or possibly even a treatment of this one for radio or TV.

In any event, this funny but thoughtful piece of new writing announces an original new theatrical voice and is a pleasure that should not be missed, although coming by a ticket may prove far from easy.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher