In the cozy basement of The Glitch, where the air is charged with anticipation for new work, we had the pleasure of watching the latest production by director Anna Udras. Her new play titled ‘Forgiving (My Mother)’ is a captivating exploration of familial bonds, forgiveness, and the enigmatic nature of free will.

Through this work, Anna speaks to generations of Eastern European women, many of whom share an unspoken understanding of what it is to grow up in a post-Soviet environment. Anna moved to the UK in 2013, and attended Drama Centre London, being one of the last Directors to graduate from DCL before it’s closure in 2022. During her education Anna’s interests laid in acute political topics, staging an anti-war play “Blasted’ by Sarah Kane and “A Girl and a Revolutionary” by Igor Simonov – a play about Stalin’s purges. ‘Forgiving (My Mother)’ marks the beginning of a new take on political theatre in Anna’s career, while no longer being interested in just speaking about the injustices of the world, the play seeks to offer a solution.

The narrative of the play is centred around the characters of Emilia and Pat, the two are working on a script about siblings who are facing a dilemma of whether they should forgive their mother. As Emilia and Pat engage in discussions about the coherence of the script, drawing parallels to their own childhoods in Eastern Europe, they grapple with the meaningfulness of their involvement in the production and ponder the extent of agency they or their characters possess over their actions and choices. The play unravels itself in a surprising and touching manner, creating an emotionally resonant narrative. It challenges audience members to reassess their beliefs regarding agency, forgiveness, and the role of theatre in shaping their perceptions and expectations.

Watching this play was both a frustrating and cathartic experience for our team. I longed for the story to continue when the characters paused to discuss whether they agreed with its narrative, or if the director truly experienced everything that was described. And at the same time, I felt the pauses were key moments to analyse the challenges of intergenerational relationships in Eastern Europe, impacted by the political turmoil of the region throughout history, and the differing beliefs of what might be unorthodox behaviour in the late 90s as opposed to now. I was touched by the compassion and space within the play that the director holds for each character, and how the concept of determinism is unpacked. The building frustration throughout the play really shapes the audience’s behaviour and interaction with the cast, treating them as a space for releasing tension. This show embodies the essence of what it is to be a young Eastern European woman, growing up within narratives shaped by the patriarchy, performing the function allocated, and later challenging that.

“Forgiving (My Mother)” has been accepted into the programme of Edinburgh Fringe 2024 and will be showing at Greenside Venues on George Street this August.  It is an exciting opportunity for young creatives like Anna and her team and we can’t wait to see how the project evolves.

Watch this space to book tickets for this show’s August run!