Brunel student play becomes critics’ darling
Mum of two penned homeless story
A DEBUT play written by a Brunel University creative writing student has taken the critics by storm.
Michelle Inniss, who is 49 and married with two teenage children, has penned a play entitled She Called Me Mother, about an elderly homeless woman who sells the Big Issue at London Bridge Station.
Actress Cathy Tyson has been hired to play Evangeline, the lead character, in the production when it opens at Brunel in Uxbridge for one night on November 4, before continuing on a nationwide tour.
Michelle’s inspiration for the play came from occasions when she would visit her ill mother eight years ago, and would have conversations she had with a homeless Trinidadian woman selling the Big Issue at London Bridge Station.
One day she accidentally called the woman ‘mother’ rather than ‘auntie’, which is a Trinidad term for a woman older than oneself, and the woman’s face ‘lit up’.
When Michelle’s mother passed away, the homeless woman insisted on giving her £3 to buy flowers. She bought a single white rose.
Michelle said: “It got me thinking about that woman’s life before being homeless.
“Where were her family? Where did she come from? Then I just started writing.”
In the play characters break the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience.
Inniss said: “What I really love so far from audience response is that it started a conversation about themes running through the play.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Actress Cathy Tyson is a BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated actor, known for her roles in the film Mona Lisa (1986) with Bob Hoskins and the TV series Band of Gold (1995-1997).
She has worked with Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre and completed her own degree at Brunel – English and drama, in 2013.
Michelle and Cathy are also old school friends from Liverpool.
Cathy said: “It’s very flattering to know that it works and people are listening.”
Michele has founded a production company with Cathy and director Cara Nolan, called Pitch Lake Productions, which is named after a lake of tar in Trinidad.
The role was not written with Cathy in mind, but Michelle described her casting as a ‘foregone conclusion’ and said that she ‘read the play and loved it’.
Michelle is now working on her second play, They Know Not What They Do, which also has a mother at the heart of the story.
As for the critics, the British Theatre Guide said of Cathy’s performance in the play: “She gives Evangeline a vibrant personality that makes this performance compelling.”
Another critic Lyn Gardner wrote: “This is an evening that brings different and distinct voices to the stage.”
Tickets for the performance on November 4 at the Antonin Artaud building, Brunel University are available at www. eventbrite.co.uk.
n REUNITED: A teenage Cathy Tyson and Michelle Inniss, who were school friends at St Winefride’s in Dingle; (below) Cathy Tyson in She Called Me Mother