Following the tragic death of her beloved son Esteban, Manuela goes to Barcelona in search of his father. But before she can exorcise her guilt she gets caught up in the lives of three women: Agrado, a long-lost transvestite friend; Rosa, a young nun in search of love; and Huma Rojo, the famous actress that Manuela’s son so admired. As Manuela’s life begins to have meaning once more, her son’s father returns and the journey of discovery and forgiveness comes full circle.
Tom Cairns’ premiere production marks the first major Almodóvar stage adaptation in 20 years and the first time ever that the Spanish filmmaker has consented to his work being produced in English. The cast features Lesley Manville (as Manuela), Diana Rigg (Huma Rojo), Charlotte Randle (Nina Cruz), Joanne Froggatt (Sister Rosa), Eleanor Bron (Rosa’s mother), Colin Morgan (Esteban) and The League of Gentleman’s Mark Gatiss (Agrado - pictured).
With the film’s winning formula front of mind, first night critics entered the Old Vic suspicious as to how yet another screen-to-stage production would turn out. All About My Mother raised many of the usual gripes and other observations on that subject, yet also managed to divide critics on whether it was better (though certainly longer) than the film or not. While one critic missed the “cinematic close-ups” and another complained that the play was too close a “copy” of the original, all agreed that Adamson’s adaptation was “edgier” and provided “clarification” of the film’s plot. There was praise too for the central performances of Lesley Manville, Diana Rigg and Mark Gatiss.
- by Tom Atkins