(Patricia) Ann Jellicoe The London Times - Essay

The London Times

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In The Sport of My Mad Mother, Ann Jellicoe] gallantly attempts to give poetic expression to the predicament of a generation ruled by fear. It is unfortunate that she appears to see life in a series of newspaper clichés.

A world of fear, she insists, must develop the Teddy Boy mentality. The grown-ups play with atom bombs, the kids with knives and guns. The kids are violent, they are cruel, and to find themselves "killers" would give them a moment of proud ecstasy. But they are always looking over their shoulders, hopeful that someone strong enough to lead them will appear, fearful lest their eyes should encounter not the wished-for leader but some truly awful surprise.

This kind of aimlessness is not easy to dramatize; and Miss Jellicoe, though she is not without skill in working arresting rhythms into the basic English of her dialogue, gives us a rather gritty evening of expressionism which sheds no special illumination on its theme and is not particularly entertaining.

The fundamental trouble is that the theme itself can be adequately expressed in a very few words, and when they have been said it only remains for them to be amplified by a number of bleak diagrammatic indications. Miss Jellicoe has denied herself anything in the way of a story and the characters have no power to develop, except as part of a moving diagram. Some of these movements are surprising enough to hold the eye, but they do not often get through to the mind.

"Court Theatre," in The London Times, February 26, 1958, p. 3.