Phil Gillam: Bill's mother's and Will Shakespeare

A bit of a potpourri this week, I think, from classic drama to utter farce, and from mental health provision to sometimes bleak yet funny short stories.

Shakespeare’s Henry V will be staged in Shrewsbury in November
Shakespeare’s Henry V will be staged in Shrewsbury in November

I’m going to be talking about Shakespeare’s Henry V being staged in Shrewsbury by the Shropshire Drama Company, and the pretty amazing ticket sales already achieved for Theatre Severn’s forthcoming pantomime, Mother Goose.

I’m also going to take a quick look at mental health care for pregnant women and new mums in Shropshire.

And then there’s a Shrewsbury-based novelist’s forthcoming book…

Okay - let’s begin with this first and work our way backwards.


I'm terribly excited about this. A collection of short stories by the brilliant writer Lisa Blower who is based in Shrewsbury. The arresting title of the book is It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s. Puzzled? It’s a Potteries saying that means it’s looking a bit bleak, looking a bit like it might rain.

Now, I absolutely loved Lisa’s last book, the highly-acclaimed novel of working class life in Stoke-on-Trent, Sitting Ducks. I've met Lisa a couple of times. Interviewed her once for a Chronicle article. Popped along to one of her creative writing talks. You know how it is. I now tell people that she's a personal friend of mine .... a bit like those people who went to school with Ringo's next door neighbour's cousin and then told everyone they were personal friends of The Beatles. Awww. Bless.

Anyway. Look out for this. With a sharp eye and tough warmth, Lisa Blower brings to life the silent histories and harsh realities of those living on the margins. The book isn’t officially out until next spring, but you can pre-order it at the Myriad publishers website.


The Maternal Mental Health Alliance has published data that shows that the level of specialist support given to Shropshire women and their families is “extremely basic” and “falls short of national standards”. Healthwatch Shropshire would like to know what support people feel is needed to ensure their whole family is supported with mental health challenges during or after pregnancy.

Over half of new mothers are concerned about their mental health and as many as one in five pregnant women and new mums experience some form of mental health challenge.

Partners can also be affected: the National Childbirth Trust research shows that one in three new dads are concerned about their mental health and one in ten dads suffer from Post Natal Depression. It is a subject that has been gathering widespread attention of late and Healthwatch Shropshire would like to know how this has affected families in the area.

It wants to hear how families have managed their mental health problems with the current provision and what improvements would have made all the difference.

Healthwatch Shropshire can be contacted on 01743 237884 or at


Delighted to report that ticket sales for Shrewsbury’s next pantomime at Theatre Severn, Mother Goose, have already topped 25,000. Not bad!

It is expected more than 40,000 people will travel to the theatre to watch the show, topping last year’s figure.

Extra performances have been added to cope with demand.

Have to say: I’m a big fan of these pantomimes, having been along to the last three and enjoyed each one enormously.

Mother Goose opens on November 28 for six weeks.


Tickets are now on sale for Shropshire Drama Company’s forthcoming production of William Shakespeare’s Henry V at Theatre Severn, which takes place from November 7 to November 10.

Young King Henry wages war on France. Tainted by the past crimes of his family and with enemies among his own ranks, he must face the difficult responsibilities of kingship, uniting his country and rousing his troops to battle at Agincourt.

Performances start at 7.30pm in the Walker Theatre at Theatre Severn. Contact the box office at Theatre Severn – telephone 01743 281281.

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News