From Theater World, July 1961
"Mother" - Pembroke, Croydon - 15th May
Adapted from a novel by Maxim Gorki, this play by Ted Willis had its first performance on 15th May. The work of distillation is successful inasmuch as the spirit of Gorki seems to pervade the play, which is partly a character study of a poor peasant woman and partly a propagandist tract. Gorki is convincing when he depicts the misery of pre-revolutionary Russia but his enthusiasm for the good time coming cannot now be infectious. Consequently, the first and second acts appealed by their characterization and dramatic action but the third act, wherein the workers rejoice in the success of their revolt, suffered from the apparent arbitrariness of most happy endings.
The Mother in the play had splendour of soul and Ruth Dunning shone in a moving and inspiring performance. Her bullying husband's brutality was attributed by her forgivingly to his understandable disgust for life. The part was strongly played by David Davis. The son's dedication to the task of improving the general lot is accompanied by coldness, hardness and priggishness but he is thrust into the arms of a girl co-worker for revolution in the optimistic third act. David McCallum burned with the cold flame of revolutionary ardor. Tony Beekley was quite invaluable in expressing trite phrases with heartfelt and unexceptional enthusiasm. Kenneth Adams was bland and slinky as a police spy. Brenda Dunrich and Carole Ann Ford gave good service in colouring the scenes. Rolf Kruger directed.