Yesterday my family came to see Em. It was a somewhat surreal experience all round. Readers of this blog will already know that the story of Em is based on the experience of my own mother in Liverpool in 1965. To have her in the audience alongside the very child that she gave birth to in that dark period was extremely moving... for them, for me, for the cast, and, no doubt, for the rest of the audience. I made a little announcement at the end to say both "Fred" and "Em" were in the audience and there was a hugely respectful and lengthy applause for them.
Both dealt extremely well with what could have been a deeply troublesome experience. Though obviously very moved, and, at times, disturbed, they were gracious throughout. I think my Mum rather enjoyed the references to Warwickshire and seemed surprised both by how accurate the story was in places, and by how much artistic license I'd taken with it elsewhere. The character of Bron, for example, was an amalgam of two Welsh girls that my Mum lived with at the time. Illya, who, in the show is a working class Liverpudlian book shop owner, was actually a PHD student in real life! But then, periodically, she'd turn to me and say things like, "did I tell you that the landlady was a Shirley Bassey fan?"
The audience response was overwhelming. There were many tears, particularly during the matinee. My mate Michelle was in pieces. I think the show taps into all sorts of unresolved issues for people, largely relating to lost love in all of its forms.