Theatre Review: I'll Tell You This For Nothing, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Subtitled “My Mother the War Hero”, I’ll Tell You This for Nothing is a sweetly-crafted memory play in which actor Kate JasonSmith pays tribute to her own mother Phyllis’s life, in particular her service as a nurse during the Second World War.

Kate JasonSmith's show pays tribute to her mother.

I'll Tell You This For Nothing, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh ***

Subtitled “My Mother the War Hero”, I’ll Tell You This for Nothing is a sweetly-crafted memory play in which actor Kate JasonSmith pays tribute to her own mother Phyllis’s life, in particular her service as a nurse during the Second World War.

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Given that we learn her mother lived until she was in her 90s, it feels as though JasonSmith has shown us only a fragmentary window upon a life well-lived, and there is the sense that the character she’s created here – in collaboration with dramaturg Deb Filler and director Jan Bolwell – isn’t quite given the space to grow from her breadth of experience.

Yet JasonSmith, who is from Wellington, New Zealand, is a brisk and lively solo storyteller, and her facility for accents helps her paint a picture of those times through its characters, particularly when she inhabits her wide-eyed young Irish mother and the much older woman reminiscing with the young Kate.

The story flits between horror and hope; between the dry humour of frontline life in Belgium and the vileness of a posting to Belsen; between romance with Kate’s officer father – a Catholic – and the bigotry of Phyllis’ protestant mother.

It’s a warm portrait, not only of JasonSmith’s mother, who earned the Legion d’Honneur, but to all the women of her generation.

Until 25 August