01 November 2023, The Tablet

The women’s room


The women’s room

Amelda Brown in The Confessions
Photo: Christophe Raynaud de Lage


The Confessions
lyttelton, National Theatre, London

Portia Coughlan
Almeida Theatre, London

After seeing one of his many ­theatre and TV plays featuring an accidentally epigrammatic Yorkshire matriarch, Alan Bennett’s Mam commented: “My, you’ve had some script off me!” As writers do, he had perhaps somehow hoped close relatives would not notice their violent cannibalisation.

The Anglo-French theatre-maker Alexander Zeldin was more open with his mother about her life being the source for his extraordinary new play, The Confessions, reaching the National Theatre on a European tour. However, she asked not to be named in publicity or reviews, and the writer–director also interviewed other women from her generation.


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