Brunel stu­dent play be­comes crit­ics’ dar­ling

Mum of two penned home­less story

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Anna Sus­lak ed­i­to­ri­aluxbridge@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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