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Return to the womb

It will soon be a decade since Charlotte Keatley's My Mother Said I Never Should was premired in Manchester, and among the many things which suggested it could have classic status is its fine structure built on beautifully chosen details. - a stained skirt, utility mug, solitaire game.

So at Colchester Mercury Theatre it is a pity director Sue Wilson interrupts the symphonic flow of action with numerous blackouts in the early scenes. But her biggest blemish arrives with the final moment. As if Keatley's closing line did not carry enough punch, Wilson provides the extra stimulus of a huge projected foetus curled in a union flag. It's clumsy and could easily be cut. Though the staging too has the occasional effect of creasing the play's classical features into stagey laughter lines, there is a lot that is good. Jill Amos' design has clouds forever floating behind the four women's lives; they are seen through a huge window - of opportunities perhaps, its top narrowed and askew. And there are good performances, Wendy Van Der Planks' Rosie capturing a sense of great youth and at the far end of the age scale, Jill Graham's Doris offering a sometimes grouchy realistic wisdom.

Until April 29. Runs 2 hrs 30 mins. Tickets: 0206 573948.

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