Almodovar on stage

Nov 19 2018 | By More

Scottish premiere of Almodovar adaptation

When All About My Mother opens at the Assembly Roxy this week (Wed 21 Nov.), it will be the culmination of a decade-long mission from director Ross Hope to bring the stage adaptation to Scotland.

Produced by EGTG, this will be the Scottish premiere of the play which was first staged at the Old Vic in 2007 staring, amongst others, Diana Rigg and Mark Gatiss. Samuel Adamson’s script is, itself, based on Pedro Almodovar’s Oscar-winning 1999 movie of the same name.

Grads All About My Mother logo/imageThe play follows Manuela who, after the tragic death of her teenage son, travels to Barcelona in search of his estranged father. There she gets caught up in the lives of three women: Agrado, a transsexual prostitute and old friend; Rosa, a pregnant nun and Huma Rojo, a famous actress long idolised by Manuela’s dead son.

When the show was announced, Hope told Æ “I loved Almodovar’s film version when I saw it back in 1999 at the Filmhouse and have made it my mission to get the rights to direct the play version since it debuted at the Old Vic. Also who doesn’t love a play that deals with death, religion, gender and existentialism, all in equal measure!”

Now, as opening night approaches on Wednesday 21 November 2018, he is no less enthused about the project. He already has some solidly ambitious productions to his directing credit – Jerusalem, The Wonderful World of Dissocia and Beachy Head – but this project, he says, is beyond anything he has previously done.

“The logistics and practicalities of rehearsing a piece of theatre like this have been, shall we say, extraordinary”, he told Æ. “We have had to make compromises along the way as EGTG sadly doesn’t have the same resources that the Old Vic had, but we have never compromised on the quality of drama that we are going to be presenting this week.”

entertaining and challenging

Hope says that he has succeeded in surrounding himself not just with a cast who “get” why the play is as wonderful and important a piece of writing as it is entertaining and challenging – but equally important for a two and a half-hour show with 36 scenes over two acts, a crew who feel the same way.

Laura Macleod as Sister Rosa and Wendy Brindle as Manuela in rehearsal. Pic EGTG

Laura Macleod as Sister Rosa and Wendy Brindle as Manuela in rehearsal. Pic EGTG

This, Hope says, provides a “quite intoxicating and a magical environment for us to rehearse in, and produce something that we are all equally committed in and invested in. Which has been a joy and a privilege too.”

Much has changed in the world of gender politics since All About My Mother was filmed. Although Almodovar was progressive on many levels, for the cult film maker’s fans he was simply continuing his signature use of a female-centric script he had since his first movie and his usual mix transexual, gay and religious characters.

“A dear of friend of mine when talking about current gender politics always says to me, ‘so much done, so much still to do!’,” says Hope. “Yes, the film version of All About My Mother was progressive in 1999 but if you watch it today, you will still find it as progressive. So it is reminder or how far we’ve come but also a reminder of how far we’ve still to go.

“In All About My Mother uniquely no one defines or introduces themselves by their gender, their sex or their sexuality. Which was unusual then for a piece of drama in the nineties when the film came out, unusual when the play came out on the noughties and still unusual now.”

So a decade down the line, the end in sight and the final weekend of technical preparation in the venue finished – by his own admission Hope had to be prized out of the venue at the end of the day when everyone else was trying to go home – is he still enjoying the ride?

“Oh dear God yes!” he says. “Absolutely! I mean, the scale and the challenge of it might just finish me off, but at least I’d die happy…”


All About My Mother
Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU
Wednesday 21 – Saturday 24 November 2018.
Evenings: 7.30pm.
For tickets and details: Book here.

The original movie and Samuel Adamson’s script are available from Amazon. Click the images for details:


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