Arnold Wesker’s ‘Four Portraits – of Mothers’
Four monologues on Womanhood
Ruth is the first mother up. As she packs suitcases she harangues her daughter, whom she for no apparent reason calls “the divine brat”. The daughter takes too long a time to prepare for the journey. Ruth also apologizes, and possibly laments, for never having married. Ruth warps up with a schmaltzy finale: “You may need a daddy, but your mother needs you. And don’t you ever take advantage of that, divine brat”.
Naomi, an old Jewish lady describes herself as “no one in the middle of nowhere with no more chances”. In between reading from an old tattered book and watching the television, Naomi receives phone calls from her concerned nephew, Danny. In fact, she wishes Danny were her son. Well, what can you do? Danny suggests that she cheer herself up by clearing her apartment, but Naomi remains uninspired by this advice.
The third portrait is composed of more haranguing and self-justification. Miriam at least has some one definite to talk to – her psychoanalyst who remains unseen. Miriam rags on and on with the intensity of someone forcing a difficult bowel movement, blaming herself, her husband, her mother and herself some more for her failure as a mother. Miriam’s big problem, it seems, is that she was so afraid of making mistakes as a mother that she held everything in—love, anger, the works—until she poisoned herself and alienated her daughters.
Me, a prisoner? Never! Such is the belief that Deborah holds to in the final portrait. Successful and victorious, she is clearly different from the other three women. She enjoys life to the full brim. We see her shopping in a shopping mall and unashamed claims – had it been possible, she would have mothered more children. She claims herself to be free – independent. It is not women who are prisoners – rather it is the men who are imprisoned in their own jobs, self-created competitions.
Script: Arnold Wesker
Translation: Moom Rahman
Direction: Toufikul Islam Emon
Set and Light: Md. Shaiful Islam
Music Direction: Rahul Ananda
Cast: Lucy Tripti Gomez/Reetu sattar, Reetu Sattar, Joyita Mahalanobish/Tamalika Kormokar and Sadika Swarna
First Staged: 24/09/2011
Total Nights: 03
Duration: 1:20 min