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The 6pm Frazzled Mums' Club by Nina Manning #Review

I am delighted to be part of the celebrations for the publication of Nina Manning's The 6pm Frazzled Mums' Club . It was published by Boldwood Books on September 26th.     Whatever the question, the answer is wine! They’ve swapped the dark and lonely baby days for school gate chaos, but Aisha, Sophy and Mel are discovering that there are new parenting pitfalls just waiting for them… Influencer Sophy, is trying to keep on top of home and work life but is finding it all a bit tough! Everyone thinks she’s living her best life, but the pressure to maintain perfection at the school gates when all she wants to do is cry, is taking its toll on Sophy. Aisha doesn’t know what to do with all her spare time now her twins are at school. Maybe it’s time to focus on herself and the dreams she’s put on hold? But when her mum suddenly begins to feel unwell, Aisha has to rethink everything. And when Mel is offered a chance to live her dream, she grabs it with both hands. But there’

Play: The Mighty Walzer by Howard Jacobson adapted by Simon Bent

Performed at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and directed by Jonathan Humphreys - World Premiere

Set in Manchester in the 1950's, The Mighty Walzer is an adaptation of Howard Jacobson's novel. Semi-autobiographical in nature, we see life in a Jewish family with an adolescent boy. The pace of the play is beautifully handled with Elliot Levey taking the part of Oliver and seamlessly changing from participant to narrator and back, as Oliver looks back at his adolescence. Lacking in social skills and self- absorbed, Oliver is lured out by his father to sample the delights of the ping pong tournaments. Socially gauche, he proves to be a master of the table tennis table and meets kindred spirits.

    I found the play to be very enjoyable and entertaining.  I particularly enjoyed the visual gags, such as the toilet and cistern appearing from the theatre roof, as did the ping pong ball which hung in the air, tantalising. Oliver's parents' relationship was a great source of humour and Tracy-Ann Oberman as Oliver's mother was sharp tongued and sassy. The relationships within the family are complicated and the audience sees them unfolding through Oliver's eyes. His parents' hopes are lodged on him as he navigates his way towards Cambridge University and they are determined that he will make something of himself, no matter how unprepossessing the raw material might be.

    Simon Bent, who adapted the book for the stage, describes how he went about the task on the website and his article can be read here. I was interested to read that he decided to abridge the original novel and stop after Oliver went off to University, although there is a hint at the end as to where Oliver has ended up. I did feel at the end, that there was more to find out about Oliver's life and  family, certainly not having tired of them in any way. 

In short: an entertaining look at family dynamics. 


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