Chainsaw attack gives hint that the strain of parenthood is showing

Kate Wyvill has turned the sheer madness of having three children in six years into a black comedy. She talks to Bridget Galton. WHEN a mum-of-three barricades herself in a wardrobe and her husband comes at the family with a chainsaw, it s possible that

Kate Wyvill has turned the sheer madness of having three children in six years into a black comedy. She talks to Bridget Galton.

WHEN a mum-of-three barricades herself in a wardrobe and her husband comes at the family with a chainsaw, it's possible that the stress of parenting has got to both parties.

Actress and playwright Kate Wyvill penned the black comedy Going Potty after being driven to near madness caring for her three young children in a small Staffordshire cottage.

"The play about a woman locking herself in a wardrobe to have a day off sprang from the sheer chaos of having three children in six years," says the 47-year-old.


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"I was cooped up in this tiny cottage with three boys, artistically frustrated because I couldn't pursue my acting and feeling I wasn't attractive any more.

"I had just moved back to England from Australia, my husband was out trying to get his career going and I felt permanently jet-lagged because my first child didn't really sleep for three years. I know I didn't plan it very well but it was hard work and a very tough time."

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Even then, it took Wyvill several years to see the comedy in what had been a difficult time.

"It wasn't until the last one was three that I could have a sense of humour about the ridiculous side of it - like arguing with your husband about who had the most sleep, playing 'finders keepers' with the nappy or becoming obsessed your husband fancies the ironing lady.

"Even then there are some very dark moments. In the play, she talks about the guilt of being a mum, of finishing the day and looking at the children sleeping and thinking, 'Why didn't I get it right today? Why did I lose my temper? I will get it right tomorrow.'

"I still find that quite upsetting because she knows she won't - but wishes she could be a better mother. She loves them desperately but is so tired and overwhelmed. She needs some help to get her head above the parapet."

Going Potty, with Wyvill in the lead role, ran at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004 and was staged at various West Midlands venues last year. It now comes to the New End Theatre in Hampstead.

Wyvill says it is sympathetic to the husband's view, even though he comes at his wife with a chainsaw.

"He is so angry with her for what she's done to him. The things we do to our partners can be really nasty. When a woman has a baby, the adoration gets switched, so this fab man you got involved with isn't that fab anymore - the baby is."

Wyvill, who worked as an actress and arts manager in Australia for 17 years, is now writing a second play - Marbles - about her father's Alzheimer's diagnosis.

"I want to explore the rage that I feel at this Cambridge graduate who now struggles to find a word.

"I have always believed in writing about your own experience, you can get to the nuts and bolts of it, but I am struggling to get time to do it.

"I would love to say I have my work life balance sorted but I am juggling like crazy trying to write and work late into the night or while the children are at school.

"Finding the balance is so difficult."

Going Potty runs at the New End Theatre from March 7 until April 1.

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