Have you ever asked your mother about her first boyfriend? How about what she felt like when you were born? Wide Awake, Fool Productions did just this, recording their mothers’ answers and distilling them into Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop.
There’s an undeniable charm to the resulting play as it deftly and humorously moves through 40 years of tiny triumphs and quiet tragedies. It has a charm matched by its understated staging, relying on the voices and bodies of the cast to transport us through school gyms and teenage discos, to chance train journeys and hospital rooms.
Somewhat inevitably, given the scope of Like Little Girls…, there are unsatisfying gaps in the narrative and voices you warm to more than others. Ellice Stevens, brimming with understated loss, provides real emotional heart to a play which elsewhere is more confident making us smile.
It’s difficult not to feel that Like Little Girls… steps away from making decisions or edits that might have proven more challenging. There are hints of real pain and loneliness beneath the surface which are allowed to slip away. Equally if we are to take one message from the play it is the hardly radical conclusion that motherhood is both the defining feature and greatest achievement of these women.
And yet, Like Little Girls… pulls you in, forcing you to set aside such qualms—albeit just for its duration—and to embrace what is ultimately a piece about love, understanding and the exhilaration of story-telling.